Alumnae contributing to knowledge production to advance development agenda in Nepal
Posted: 19 August 2020
In the first half of 2020, several Nepalese Australia Awards alumnae made notable development contributions by publishing significant research in the fields of gender equality and social inclusion, education, and empowerment of marginalised communities. Through articles in acclaimed international peer-reviewed journals and research project reports, these women are contributing to knowledge production in crucial areas of Nepal’s development agenda.
Most recently, Dr Punam Yadav (featured above) published the research article ‘Can women benefit from war? Women’s agency in conflict and post-conflict societies’ in the Journal of Peace Research in June 2020. Drawing on data from 200 interviews and six focus group discussions carried out over the past 12 years, Punam examined “conflict-induced social and structural changes through the lived experiences of women tempo (auto-rickshaw) drivers, war widows, women ex-combatants and women politicians”.
Punam received her doctoral degree from the University of Sydney in 2014 through an Australia Awards Scholarship. Her PhD focused on how “the rupture in restrictive gender norms” induced by armed conflict in Nepal promoted women’s positive transformation. This paper furthers looks at these ruptures, considering aspects such as their transformative quality, the durability or sustainability of the ruptures, and the impetus towards a return to pre-conflict gender norms.
A Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction’s Centre for Gender and Disaster at University College London, Punam previously authored the book ‘Social Transformation in Post-Conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective’; she also has several other peer-reviewed journal publications to her credit.
In the same month that Punam’s newest article appeared, alumna Madhu Neupane Bastola published ‘Engagement and Challenges in Supervisory Feedback: Supervisors’ and Students’ Perceptions’ in the June 2020 issue of RELC Journal. In this research article, Madhu examined the dynamics of misunderstanding between supervisors and their master’s level thesis students in a Nepali public university. A lecturer at Nepal’s Tribhuvan University, Madhu is pursuing her PhD at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Drawing on her own experience of supervising theses, she critically examines the pertinent issues on the “quality of thesis research”. She hopes that the article “contributes to advance knowledge, enhance practices and inform policy regarding master’s thesis supervision”.
Madhu received an Australia Awards Scholarship to pursue a Master of Education (TESOL) from the University of Sydney in 2015, and praises her Australian experience. “Although I was a practising academic before I went to Australia to pursue my MEd (TESOL) study,” she says, “my research literacy in the true sense and therefore my potential for contributing to the production of knowledge were developed at the University of Sydney.”
Similarly, alumna Dr Neeti Aryal Khanal has contributed to knowledge production by authoring “I Can Speak”: Navigating Masculine Spaces in Federal Nepal’, the fifth volume in a series on federalism in Nepal published by independent international peacebuilding organisation International Alert. Released at the beginning of 2020, this report by Neeti is part of a broader research project undertaken to examine how Nepal’s experience of federalism has translated into the everyday living experiences of marginalised communities.
Explaining the significance of the publication, Neeti says, “Moving forward from the established academic and development discourses of patriarchy, I discuss the concept of masculine culture and space, which is an important part of the everyday lived experience of Nepali women.” She hopes that “the research will be helpful for policymakers, government agencies and development professionals to understand the experiences of marginalised women and sexual minorities in federal Nepal”.
With support from Australia Awards, Neeti pursued both her master’s degree and a doctoral degree from Monash University in 2009 and 2019, respectively. She is a Lecturer of Sociology at Tribhuvan University, the largest public university in Nepal.
Australia Awards alumni are recognised as innovators, leaders, and influencers in their fields. Using the knowledge and skills they gained in Australia, alumni are contributing significantly towards pressing development issues, including through academic discourse. These publications are evidence of such contribution and representative of wider alumni success.
Image at top of page: Dr Punam Yadav presenting one of her past pieces of research, ‘Social Transformation in Post-Conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective’