Young women in policy in South Asia
The policy terrain in South Asia can often be hostile to young women.
Despite their large presence in policy-making networks and organizations, women encounter discrimination in the workplace and limitations to their careers. This occurs even when women are ostensibly engaged in planning policies that are specifically targeted at women, such as policies on maternity leave, education for female children, and the right to abortion.
This panel event will explore the distance between making policy and putting it into practice. All of the panelists will share their personal experiences as women involved in reform initiatives in South Asia to give insight into how much (or how little) academic ideas genuinely translate to policy outcomes. Their talks will shed light on women's negotiations with the state, politics, and law in a male-dominated environment.
About the speakers
Dr Atiyab Sultan is a career civil servant and has been working in the Pakistan Administrative Service since 2016. During her bureaucratic career, she has served as an Assistant Commissioner in Islamabad, Gujrat and Jhelum, and as Additional Deputy Commissioner in Lahore, Pakistan. She has also worked in the provincial and federal Planning Commissions of Pakistan. She holds a doctorate and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge and is the author of A Broken Record: Institutions, Community and Development in Pakistan (Cambridge University Press, 2022). She also co-edited The Gazetteer of the Lahore District (Sang-e-meel Publications 2022). Atiyab has published her work in leading journals such as Modern Asian Studies and has previously taught Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan. She is currently continuing her research work at Olin Business School, USA.
Dr Saumya Saxena is an Associate Professor in the Law School at O. P. Jindal Global University. She is also a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and an affiliated lecturer at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. Her research interests include legal history, family law, gender, and politics in South Asia and her book Divorce and Democracy: A history of personal law in post-independence India was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. She is also interested in legislative policy and has advised on the Justice Verma Commission, 2013, which was formed in 2012 to recommend amendments to laws sexual violence against women in India. The report became the basis for Criminal Law Amendment 2013. Saumya advised on the 21st Law Commission of India, a premier law reform organisation in India from 2016-18 on reports relating to family law reform in India and repeal of sedition laws. In 2019 she was consulted by the Forced Marriages Commission, United Kingdom on preventing forced and fraudulent marriages in Britain involving citizens from India.
Dr Cynthia Farid is a legal historian and a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. She is currently a Global Academic Fellow at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, and a member of the Global Young Academy in Germany. She has previously worked on law reform and policy development in Bangladesh as an international development professional. Dr. Farid’s research interests include socio-legal history, constitutional and administrative law, law and development (with a focus on South Asia), and knowledge production processes in the Global South.
Elilini Hoole is a PhD candidate at the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on development-oriented climate policies in support of vulnerable communities. Prior to starting her PhD, Elil was an established management consultant who applied economic research to designing organizational strategy and partnerships for development-oriented climate responses in vulnerable regions affected by conflict and climate disasters. As a practitioner, she specialized in research-based analysis of climate change and development issues to design progressive, high-impact, and risk conscious strategies. While having worked in over 19 countries, Elil spent several years in post-conflict areas of Sri Lanka, supporting the return of displaced communities in the North and developing innovative green growth programs that bridged immediate socio-economic vulnerabilities with long term sustainable developmental goals. Her current research draws on these experiences to explore how climate policies can more equitably and efficaciously benefit marginalized groups.
The panel will be chaired by Prof Shailaja Fennell, Fellow at Jesus College, Professor of Regional Transformation and Economic Security, Department of Land Economy and Centre for Development Studies Cambridge and the Director at the Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge.