September 2023

5:00 PM IST

113, School of Arts and Sciences


Gender and Empowerment: The “Right to Work” in Employment-Guarantee Schemes

Seminar and Lecture Series

Suruchi Thapar-Björkert

Docent and Associate Professor
Department of Government
University of Uppsala, Sweden

The lecture aims to explore the mechanisms and processes through which social protection schemes contribute to the (dis)empowerment of women. Employment guarantee schemes, which are both rights-based and demand-based, hold transformative potential for enhancing economic and social security on the one hand, and achieving gender equitable development outcomes, on the other, of which women’s empowerment forms a critical element. Placing the idea of sustainable rural livelihoods at the core of poverty reduction, the lecture attempts to bridge an evident conceptual and empirical gap in understanding the mechanisms that underpin empowerment processes. Drawing insights from an employment guarantee scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in two states (Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh) in India, the lecture analyses the processes of empowerment and oppression within the same framework.

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Suruchi Thapar-Björkert

Suruchi Thapar-Björkert is a Docent and Associate Professor at the Department of Government, University of Uppsala, Sweden. After completing her Bachelors (University of Delhi), Masters (Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi), and Master of Philosophy (Cambridge University, UK), she completed her PhD at the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender, University of Warwick, in 1997. She has held teaching and research positions at the Development Studies and Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UU; Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies, South Africa, and more recently at SWAGS, Amherst College, Massachusetts, USA.

Her research trajectories cover the following areas: gendered discourses of colonialism and nationalism, gendered violence in India and Europe, ethnicity, social capital and social exclusion, assisted reproductive technologies and qualitative feminist research methodologies. Her first book Women in the Indian Nationalist Movement: Unseen Faces: Unheard Voices, 1925-1942 (2006) was reprinted in 2015 as a Sage Classic. She co-edited the book, Postcolonial and Postsocialist Dialogues: Intersections, Opacities, Challenges in Feminist Theorizing and Practice with Routledge, UK (2021).

Associate Professor Thapar-Björkert is a recipient of many research awards including the University Research Award (Kraftpaket för Jämställdhet) at Uppsala University in 2012. She has completed four Swedish Research Council funded projects on Civil Society and Deliberative Democracy (2015-2017), The Paradoxes of Empowerment – Employment Guarantee, Women and Dalits in India (2016-2019), From Waste to Profit: Gender, Bio-politics, and Neo-liberalism in Indian Commercial Surrogacy (2017-2020) and Understanding Racism in Healthcare: Developing and implementing anti-racist strategies through shared knowledge production and evaluation (2018-2021).