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Gender Institute Projects

Gender Institute Projects

Research. Teaching. Impact.

Learn about the Projects of the Gender Institute and its Associates and Affiliates! 

It is vital that the world's parliaments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with gender sensitivity; vital for public order and the rule of law, the effective containment of the disease, and the health and wider well-being of the public, both now, and in the future. This week has seen the publication of UN Women's 'A PRIMER FOR PARLIAMENTARY ACTION:Gender Sensitive Responses to COVID-19'. Co-authored by Royal Holloway's new Professor of Gender and Politics, Sarah Childs, and ANU's Dr Sonia Palmieri, the Primer, and its accompanying 'checklist', makes clear the case for parliaments to accept this democratic responsibility, and offers practical advice to ensure gender sensitive parliamentary business and working arrangements,  during and beyond, the pandemic. 

Sexual Relations as International Relations explores the co-constitution of the state and sex in global politics. It puts forth an argument that state borders, the people who inhabit state borders, and the international status of states cannot be fully understood without reference to sex acts and sexual relationships. It does so by making a case across geography and across history that sex acts have been both independently significant and part of key webs of signification in the establishment, evolution, and status of states. To accomplish this, the book has two interrelated substantive foci: dynastic reproduction (particularly treaty marriages) and sex-based regulations for migration and citizenship.

         Building on feminist and queer theorizing in global politics that has highlighted the importance of gender, sexuality, and perceptions about those things in the structure and function of the global political arena, this project takes sex as both significatory and embodied. Expanding on Spike Peterson’s argument that ‘making states is making sex’, it argues that states and sex are inextricably co-constituted in contemporary global politics, not only in the production of the state, but in its constant reproduction. Through its empirical work, this project makes links between sex, sexuality, motherhood, and state territorial security and citizenship rules.

        Funded by the British Academy and housed in the Department of Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy, this is a project that will produce a book project and a series of articles and posts. 

Small-scale credit is exalted in mainstream development thinking as a key means of supporting women and their families in dealing with daily, ongoing, and often slow-onset climate disasters. Facing growing crises of agricultural productivity from droughts and floods, and taking primary responsibility for the nutritional wellbeing of their households, women are targeted as credit borrowers globally. Credit provisioning therefore speaks to the push for 'resilience' against climate disasters that is central to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, 'Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts', and which has serious implications for SDG 5 'Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls' that prioritises the valuing and recognition of women's unpaid care and domestic work. How do we ensure, then, that 'climate resilience' does not come at the cost of women's emotional and bodily depletion through processes of household nutrition provisioning? This is the key concern motivating this two-year project which asks:

(1) In what ways is credit, as a form of climate resilience, shaping nutritional provisioning?

(2) How are the dynamics of nutrition provisioning and credit-taking in a changing climate being experienced and visualised?

(3) What are the gender and social reproductive dynamics of the climate-credit-nutrition nexus?

(4) What lessons can be learned to deliver improved and more equitable credit provisioning and nutritional outcomes to households and communities affected by slow-onset climate disasters?

The project's methodology is anchored in environmental science, visual arts, and social science methods which are combined into a research design to effectively probe these complex questions. Set within the political economy contexts of Cambodia and Tamil Nadu, India, fieldwork encompasses the collection of environmental profiles, socio-economic and nutritional indicators, measurements of energy expenditure, and oral and visual analysis; all through a lens that foregrounds gender dynamics. In each country, research will be carried out in 3 rural villages and 2 industrial worksites given that rural households are often maintained by labour migrants engaged in non-rural work. 

       Ultimately, given the status accorded to small-scale credit as a significant lever in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, our research is crucial to informing its thinking on, and operationalisation of, gender-equitable climate resilience.
     This project is funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund and hosted by the Department of Geography.   

This project, funded by the Research England Strategic Priorities Fund, explores the applicability of research on gender and intersectionality in patterns of voting and running for public office. Together, the co-investigators’ previous work makes a case that gender (overlapping with race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, class, dis/ability and other axes) plays important roles in guiding voter behaviour, impacting political opinion, giving meaning to substantive representation, framing how campaigns are run, shaping how campaigns are experienced, and establishing expectations for leaders. This project looks to make that work accessible, focusing on these related but separable entitles: women voters and women candidates. The ‘voter’ part of the project includes three building blocks meant to establish familiarity with dimensions of gender and the voting experience, building a tool to help people learn about women voters’ preferences, sharing information about gender and voting across a large social media campaign, and putting together a panel conversation about gender, voting, and the 2021 London mayoral election. The ‘candidate’ part of the project includes three building blocks meant to bring awareness to and further explore the gendered experiences that women candidates seeking public office have as they campaign and then lead, seeking conversations with women candidates about gendered experiences, partnering with advocacy groups to raise awareness of online violence against women candidates, and training RHUL students interested in running for public office.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having significant repercussions on the global garment industry, of huge importance not only to Cambodia's economy, but also to its 1 million workers, 80% of whom are women. Many garment factories are interrupting production with the effect that 1/4 of workers have been dismissed or temporarily suspended. Formal social protection in the sector, though improving due to multi-stakeholder efforts, is weak and fragile. Mixed-method longitudinal research will track and amplify the experiences and coping mechanisms of 200 women workers as they navigate the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project's interdisciplinary team from human geography, political economy, and organisation studies will generate new knowledge on underlying and differentiating determinants of risk and resilience arising from formal and informal social protections.

The ambitious UKRI-funded study will focus its policy attention on learning to 'Build Back Better' social protection to prevent and mitigate longer-term impacts of the pandemic and future risk events. Our approach centres women's representation in planning and decision-making as critical to 'stitching back better' just and resilient garment supply chains to make progress towards gender equality (SDG5), inclusive economic growth and decent work (SDG8). The project's impact, within its 18-month lifetime, will be compelled by its partnerships with, and pro-active convening together, of government (Cambodian Ministry of Labor, British Embassy), regulators (ILO, Better Factories Cambodia), industry (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, H&M), think tanks (ODI), workers' organisations (CATU, the only female-led union in Cambodia), and women's media (Women's Media Center and the Messenger Band).



This project historicises western butch lesbian identity and lived experience from the 1950s to the present day, via 30-40 oral history interviews with self-identified butches. Despite the acknowledged centrality of butchness and butch identity to modern lesbian subcultures, the butch herself has been curiously under-examined by historians. The proposed project will produce the first monograph devoted to the history of butch lesbianism. Through an ambitious international (UK, USA, Australia) and multi-generational approach, this project foregrounds butch identity and, in the process, seeks definitions of butch, which have proved elusive in both academic and community discourses. This timely project stages an important intervention during a period of ‘butch renaissance’ in queer subcultures, as well as fiercely polarised debates about trans identities and rights around which butch identity has been mobilised and contested. As such it has significant impact and public engagement potential.

This project capitalizes on research in the Royal Holloway, University of London Department of Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy on gender, elections, and democracy – work which looks at gender and public opinion, gender and substantive representation, women in democracy and elections, gendered political recruitment, gendered representation, and violence against women in politics (VAW-P) – as an anchor for an impact project on gender, candidacy, and voting.

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