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Title: Gender and active citizenship in the context of international development intervention in Kyrgyzstan
Author: Hoare, Joanna
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 5020
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2014
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Working within a theoretical framework that draws on feminist critiques of how concepts of gender equality, civil society, activism, and citizenship have been instrumentalised within 'development', this thesis considers the evolution of donor-funded, gender-focused development policy and programme in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, since the country became independent in 1991, and how this has shaped what it means to be involved in 'gender activism' (activities that in some way promote a positive shift in gender relations). I begin by considering how Soviet equalities policy, the unwritten Soviet social contract, and the realities of everyday Soviet life, as well as the impacts of post-independence economic and political transition, created particular understandings of citizenship, gender equality, and women's rights in Kyrgyzstan. Foreign donors arriving into this environment in the 1990s facilitated the growth of the country's NGO sector in the interests of building 'civil society' (seen as integral to the process of democratisation and to delivering aid), and brought with them alternative understandings of these concepts, which those active in NGOs were expected to adopt. I explore how women and men active in this sector negotiate, contest, and accommodate these competing agendas, as well as the power relations that have developed within the gender-focused NGO sector in particular. The findings are based on qualitative research (in-depth, semi-structured interviews, and observation of three case study groups), carried out between July 2009 and April 2010 in Bishkek. I argue that the representation of civil society and the gender-focused NGO sector in Kyrgyzstan as donor-led and out of touch with wider society that has come to dominate the literature on development in this region masks complex processes of contestation and negotiation, as well as the deeply held commitments of those active within it to 'helping' others and participating in bringing about progressive social change.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral