What do we know and what are we doing to change them?

  • Persistent inequalities pose a significant threat to the achievement of development goals and poverty eradication in the South Asian region. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities and opened up new divisions. The Office of the Chief Economist of the South Asia Region, in cooperation with Global Practices and the Development Research Group, is conducting a research program, Divisions and Social Norms: Gender Disparities, Opportunities and Geography in South Asia, to deepen our understanding of long-term inequalities.

    This workshop, the second in a series that recently started with an event on preference for sons, focuses on the role of social norms in maintaining gender disparities in all areas. Many interventions aimed at bridging the gender gaps have been implemented in the region and significant gains have been made. However, policies are often blind to social norms and their impacts on gender, leading to mixed success: laws to promote women’s access to land through inheritance are bypassed; active labor market policies have succeeded in training women but failed to engage them in productive work; and financial support for women-run businesses has shifted to male spouses, among others. Identifying and measuring more precisely the standards at play can be transformative in eliminating long-standing disparities in the region and can inform programs towards such a goal.

  • The workshop consists of the following four presentations and is organized around three main questions (a)What do we know about the role of standards for women’s outcomes and gender equity in South Asia?(b)How do standards interact with other barriers to gender equity? (c) can the standards be changed and how?

    • Caroline harper (Overseas Development Institute) will discuss highlights of recent Advancing Learning and Innovation on Gender Norms (ALiGN) publications “Gender, power and progress: How norms changes” and “The Social Norms Atlas: Understanding global social norms and related concepts”
    • Nayantara Sarma and Ana Maria Munoz Boudet (co-authors of SARCE and EMBED) will present the first results of the book: “Social Norms and Gender Equality: A Descriptive Analysis for South Asia”
    • Diva Dhar (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – BMGF) will discuss her research on norms and ideas emerging from the broader BMGF-supported work on social norms and gender
    • Ashwini Deshpande (Ashoka University) will present her perspective on standards, drawing on her work in the South Asian region, such as recent articles “Norms that Matter” and “Dropping Out, Being Pushed Out or Can ‘t Get in?
  • Ashwini Deshpande

    Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the Center for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA) at Ashoka University

    Ashwini Deshpande is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the Center for Economic Data and Analysis (CEDA) at Ashoka University. Her doctorate and early publications focused on the international debt crisis of the 1980s. Subsequently, she worked on the economics of discrimination and affirmative action, with an emphasis on caste and gender. in India. She is the author of “Grammar of Caste: economic discrimination in contemporary India”, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2011 (Hardcover) and 2017 (Softcover); and “Affirmative Action in India”, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, Oxford India Short Introductions series, 2013. She is the editor of “Boundaries of Clan and Color: Transnational Comparisons of Inter-Group Disparity” (with William Darity, Jr ..), United Kingdom, 2010 (Hardcover) and 2012 (Paperback) and “Global Economic Crisis and the Developing World” (with Keith Nurse), Routledge, London, 2012. She received the EXIM Bank Prize for her thesis Outstanding (now called IERA Award) in 1994, and the 2007 VKRV Rao Award for Indian Economists Under 45.

    Caroline harper

    Principal Investigator and Director of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Program at ODI

    Dr Caroline Harper is Principal Investigator and Director of the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Program at ODI. She is an anthropologist with 30 years of experience in research, qualitative and participatory research methods, research management, policy analysis and advisory work. Caroline leads work on gender social norms and culture change, as well as adolescence and critical skills development. Caroline is working on a number of projects, including ALIGN, which brings together global research on discriminatory and harmful gender norms, and GAGE, a global longitudinal research and assessment study on gender and adolescents. Interests also include chronic and intergenerational poverty, childhood, exclusion and empowerment with the aim of creating a critical and policy-relevant knowledge base and empowering researchers and activists with skills, evidence and the capacity to act on results locally and globally. She lived and worked for 10 years in East Asia and worked for NGOs, multilateral and bilateral agencies in East, Central and South East Asia and Africa.

    Diva Dhar

    Senior Program Officer in the Gender Equality team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Diva is a Senior Program Officer in the Gender Equality team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she leads a portfolio of gender data, measurement and evidence grants, with a focus on gender East Africa and South Asia. Previously, she was part of the Gates Foundation’s measurement, learning and evaluation team, leading work on health, nutrition, youth and gender in India. Prior to joining the foundation, Diva worked for over a decade in public policy evaluation, capacity building and utilization research for J-PAL, Innovations for Poverty Action, World Bank, Commission planning India and other non-profit organizations. Diva is a doctoral candidate at the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. She holds an MA in International and Development Economics from Yale University.

    Nayantara Sarma

    Economist in Global Poverty and Equity Practice at the World Bank

    Nayantara Sarma is an Economist in the Global Poverty and Equity Practice of the World Bank. Her research focuses largely on development topics such as work, inequalities, gender, immigration and health. She obtained her PhD in Development Economics from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and an MA from the Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research in Mumbai. She previously worked with ILO and WHO, and has field experience in India.

    Ana Maria Munoz Boudet

    Senior Social Scientist with the Mind, Behavior and Development Unit at the World Bank

    Ana Maria Munoz Boudet is a social scientist at the World Bank’s Global Practice Poverty and Equity with the Mind, Behavior and Development Unit (eMBeD). Her work focuses on issues of gender, poverty and inequality. She has worked in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia, Africa and South Asia. Within eMBeD, Ana Maria’s work has focused on developing socio-emotional skills to address gaps in education and labor markets, and in changing behaviors associated with negative outcomes. human capital. She has led national and regional analytical research, policy and program impact evaluations, and technical assistance to client countries. Ana Maria is also part of the South Asia Gender Innovation Lab (SARGIL). She is co-author of the World Development Report 2012 on Gender Equality and Development. A sociologist by training, she holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a doctorate from the University College of London.


World Bank Group published this content on September 29, 2021 and is solely responsible for the information it contains. Distributed by Public, unedited and unmodified, on September 30, 2021 12:11:01 AM UTC.

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About Marjorie C. Hudson

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