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Afghanistan gozargah: Discourses on gender-focused aid in the aftermath of conflict.

Abirafeh, Lina (2008) Afghanistan gozargah: Discourses on gender-focused aid in the aftermath of conflict. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This research addresses gender-focused international aid in Afghanistan in the aftermath of conflict, focusing on the period of the Bonn Agreement (December 2001 - September 2005). The investigation begins with a contextualized understanding of women in Afghanistan to better understand their role in social transformations throughout history. This history is in some measure incompatible with the discourse on Afghan women that was created by aid institutions to justify aid interventions. Such a discourse denied Afghan women's agency, abstracting them from their historical and social contexts. In so doing, space was created for the proposed intervention using a discourse of transformation. This discourse sought to 'empower' and 'liberate' Afghan women, yet implementation of interventions did not reflect such goals, nor the reality of the Gozargah (transition, juncture). This research illuminates the discourses animating gender-focused international aid in the aftermath of conflict in Afghanistan and the effects of these discourses on the gender order. This political and institutional ethnography was conducted first through an examination of policy texts and media discourses, then through an investigation of program practice through the perspectives of policy-makers and policy implementers. The findings were then weighed against the perspectives and experiences of women and men in Afghanistan. This research employs a gender analysis to illustrate the story of an aid intervention, starting with how it was represented at the highest levels to how it was understood at the lowest levels. This story reveals that first, Afghan women have been neither 'empowered' nor 'liberated' because the discourse on Afghan women was not historically and socially contextualized. This is further compounded by aid interventions that addressed political - and highly politicized - gender concerns with technical aid responses. The result is that promises of strategic transformations fell short of their goal, resulting in unintended effects in the form of continued insecurities for Afghan women.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Women's Studies, South Asian Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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