Bringing Women's Voices into the Mainstream: A Media Research Fellowship on Militarization and Women in South Asia
South Asia is the most densely populated region of the world, second only to sub-Saharan Africa in poverty indicators. It is also one of the world's most conflict-affected regions. Women feel the impact of these conflicts deeply. This project aims to improve the situation of all South Asian women who live under constant threat in militarized zones across the region.
South Asia's two largest states are nuclear armed, have fought four wars, and neighbour one another. Most South Asian countries have large armies which are routinely used to counteract domestic political challenges to the state. For people living in these conflict-affected areas, the threats to their security include the armies, militant groups, rival militias, secret armies, and intelligence outfits.
A large number of men in these regions take up arms for one side or the other, leading to a further spiral of violence. Women find themselves caught up in a daily struggle for survival. They are left to deal with the consequences of violence committed by state and non-state armed actors. Their voices are often unheard or ignored, even when they have demonstrated mature leadership and argue for practical solutions. This was the case for women in Nepal during the armed conflict and for the Naga Mothers Association in Nagaland, the Meira Paibis in Manipur and the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Kashmir. In each case, women's voices did not become part of the mainstream discourse on conflict resolution, nor were their practical ideas adopted. They continue to suffer fear, insecurity, and the threat of physical, sexual, and psychological violence. There is no respect for their basic human rights.
This project seeks to mainstream women's voices through a support program that pairs mid-career media professionals with senior researchers. The researchers will mentor media fellows to apply a gender lens and explore how complex conflict issues in militarized environments affect communities. Senior Governance, Security, and Justice (GSJ) grantees who are leading research projects on similar themes in South Asia will serve as resource persons.
The fellows will carry out individual research projects. They will publish their findings in the mainstream media and bring the gendered impact of militarization into the public eye, and help to build public opinion and pressure for change.
Panos South Asia will implement the project. Mid-career investigative journalists will collaborate with and be mentored by senior researchers from well-established research institutes.