Insecurity, Dispossession, Depletion: Women's Experiences of Post-War Development in Myanmar

TitleInsecurity, Dispossession, Depletion: Women's Experiences of Post-War Development in Myanmar
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsHedstrom, Jenny, and Elisabeth Olivius
JournalThe European Journal of Development Research
Date Published03/2020

This article explores the gendered dynamics of Myanmar’s post-war economic reforms through an analysis of women’s experiences of development in Kayah (Karenni) state. In Myanmar, ceasefires and a reduction of armed violence combined with state-driven economic liberalization reforms are conditioned by, but also contribute to remake, gendered relations of power, privilege and marginalization. While new land legislation and development projects have contributed to loss of land and livelihoods among rural populations in general, our study demonstrates that women living in conflict-affected border areas are disproportionally affected. Drawing on interviews and participant observation, we show how this is directly related to an overarching gendered political economy defined by legacies of conflict, discrimination and uneven processes of development, which positions women as particularly vulnerable to new forms of insecurity, dispossession and depletion generated by post-war economic transformations. We argue that the political and economic legacies of war in the state has produced a gendered division of labor that positions women as responsible for unpaid and underpaid informal and social reproductive labor, weakens women’s access to land, and results in physical, material, and emotional depletion. Through this focus, our study adds to research on development and economic restructuring in post-war contexts in general, and to emergent scholarship on Myanmar’s economic reforms in particular. [From the Author]

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