Feminist solidarity? Women's engagement in politics and the implications for water management in the Darjeeling Himalaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article explores the motivations of a diverse group of women in the Himalayan region of Darjeeling district in India to engage (or not) in politics, and discusses how women, like men, are vulnerable to power and politics. In Darjeeling, class, ethnicity, and other divides are accentuated by unresolved, decades-long identity-based political conflicts that also obscure practical everyday needs and challenges. This defines which women engage in the political domain and, in the dominantly patriarchal political space, how these women relate to the region's enduring water challenges. In such a setting, it would be ideal to wish for solidarity among women that would overcome class and ethnic divisions and individual political aspirations, making space for gendering political causes and practical challenges. Such solidarity would be especially pertinent in the Eastern Himalaya, given the region's projected climate vulnerability and fragile democracy. However, reality is far removed from development discourse and policy which suggests an assumed camaraderie among mountain women: an imagined empathy and solidarity in relation both to environmental causes and concerns and the practice of equitable power and politics. In looking at how a diverse group of women in varying positions of power and powerlessness in Darjeeling District are unable, reluctant, or simply uninterested in addressing critical water injustices experienced by some, this paper calls for retrospection on both gender–environment myths and gender–politics fictions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalMountain Research and Development
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Women
  • Identity
  • Environment
  • Water
  • Politics
  • Feminism
  • Solidarity
  • Darjeeling

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