Amartya Sen Launches Gender Challenges
Oxford University Press, the world’s largest university press, launched internationally acclaimed economist Bina Agarwal’s Gender Challenges in New Delhi today. Gender Challenges is a three-volume compendium that brings together a selection of Bina Agarwal’s essays, written over three decades. Combining diverse disciplines, methodologies, and cross-country comparisons, the essays challenge standard economic analysis and assumptions from a gender perspective.
The book was released by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who was joined by acclaimed novelist Vikram Seth and Renana Jhabvala, Chairperson, SEWA Bharat. The launch was followed by an engaging conversation between Professor Sen and Professor Agarwal which was moderated by well-known journalist and political commentator, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.
About the books
Volume 1 spans varied dimensions of the author’s writings on agrarian change, from 1981 to the present. It identifies gender inequalities in the impact of agricultural modernisation and technical change across Asia and Africa; the links between women, poverty, and economic growth processes; and data biases in measuring women’s work. It traces the gendered costs of droughts and famine, and challenges top-down methods of innovation diffusion. Focusing on the key role of women farmers in food security, it also offers innovative solutions, including public land banks and group farming.
Volume 2 focuses on the author’s paradigm-shifting work on women’s property status in South Asia. Challenging conventional approaches to women’s empowerment, it demonstrates how promoting access to property, especially land, is key to enhancing women’s economic and social well-being and deterring domestic violence. It details gender inequalities in inheritance laws, public policies, and land struggles, and presents the bargaining framework for understanding and finding ways of overcoming these inequalities, both within families and in markets, communities, and vis-à-vis the state.
Volume 3 traces the relationship between gender and environmental change. Critiquing ecofeminist assumptions, it presents an alternative theoretical framework. It also examines the causes of women’s absence as well as the impact of their presence in environmental collective action. Based on innovative fieldwork on community institutions for forest governance, the author demonstrates how a critical mass of women can significantly improve conservation outcomes. In conclusion, she reflects on which features of feminist scholarship make for an effective challenge to mainstream economics.
About the author
Bina Agarwal is Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the University of Manchester. Prior to this, she was Director of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, to which she continues to be affiliated as Professor of Economics. In 2008 she was awarded a Padma Shri and in 2010 the Leontief prize for ‘broadening the frontiers of economic thought’.