Sohela Nazneen

Sohela Nazneen

Research Fellow

Sohela Nazneen has 17 years of experience working on gender and development issues. Her research focuses on gender and politics, feminist movement, women’s empowerment and violence against women in South Asia and sub Saharan Africa.

Before joining IDS, Sohela was a faculty member at the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, and a Research Fellow based at BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University, in Bangladesh. She worked as a consultant- designing gender and development interventions, conducting programme evaluations and gender policy analysis for the FAO, UNDP, SDC, Irish Aid, The Asia Foundation, The McArthur Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-among others. Sohela’s recent publications include: Negotiating Gender Equity in the Global South: the Politics of Domestic Violence Policy (Routledge, 2019)- a comparative study of six countries- based on her research for the Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) center, University of Manchester, UK. She was also a guest editor for special issue on ‘Contentious Empowerment: Women, Development and Power in South Asia’ in Contemporary South Asia (vol 27 no 4).  She has published in World Development, Women’s Studies International Forum, Studies in Family Planning, among others.

At IDS, Sohela leads IDS’ Strategic Research Initiative areas on ‘Resisting backlash against gender equity, social justice and civic space,’ and is the convenor of IDS’ flagship MA programme on Gender and Development.  She is the political economy lead for the ESRC funded project ‘Sustaining Power: Women’s Struggles Against Contemporary Backlash in South Asia’ and co-ordinates the research in Bangladesh and Nepal. Sohela is the workstream lead on the thematic area- ‘Voice and Women’s Rights’ for the Sida funded programme on Countering Backlash Reclaiming Gender Justice, where Sohela co-ordinates research, convening and capacity building work with partners in Bangladesh, India, Uganda, Lebanon and Brazil. Sohela also co-convenes the ‘Gendered Contentions’ workstream focusing on women’s leadership and claim-making in conflict affected settings for the Action for Empowerment and Accountability Programme (A4EA). Sohela is the gender and methods lead for the British Academy Funded project- the Gendered Price of Precarity, which explores workplace sexual harassment and youth mobilisation in informal sectors in Uganda and Bangladesh.

Sohela currently supervises the following PhD students:

Susana Araujo whose PhD thesis is titled ‘The Dynamics of Social Movements and Countermovements around Gender Equality in Peru’.

Alexandra Obeng—Gyaaba whose PhD thesis is titled ‘Women and Political Appointment: A Study of the Local Government of Ghana’.

Meenakshi Krishnan whose PhD thesis is titled ‘The Ethics of Mainstreaming Care: A Study of the Maternity Benefit Policy in India’.

Andrea Papan whose PhD thesis is titled ‘Epistemological and pedagogical processes in Gender and Development Higher Education: Fostering pathways for feminist transformative learning’.

Fauzia Issaka whose PhD thesis is titled ‘Impact of Autonomous Youth Activism on Progress to Gender Justice’.

Ayesha Khan whose PhD thesis is titled ‘Feminist Actors, Political Voice and Gender Policies in Pakistan’.


Google Scholar



Youth employment and politics

Over 40 percent of global populations are under 25 yet young people cannot secure work and increasingly face a crisis of citizenship. Youth Employment and Politics at IDS builds on decades of research to develop knowledge and evidence that contributes to effective interventions that supports,...


Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme in Bangladesh (CLEAR)

The Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme in Bangladesh (CLEAR) is a 2.5 year FCDO-funded programme to support an evidence-informed Covid-19 response and recovery in Bangladesh. The pandemic has disrupted production in agriculture, industry and the informal sector- creating a new...


The Gendered Price of Precarity

Marjoke Oosterom and Sohela Nazneen have won a British Academy Grant under the GCRF Youth Futures Call. The project, ‘The gendered price of precarity: Workplace sexual harassment and young women's agency’, will focus on female workers in Uganda and Bangladesh. The study aims to contribute to...


Pakistan Hub

The Pakistan Hub provides focus in a country at the leading edge of development thinking and practice and is centered on a long-term partnership between IDS and the highly regarded Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). It recognises that...



Durdiner (hard times) Diaries: Updates from the ground

In our Durdiner Diaries project (in Bangla, Hard times diaries), we have been tracking ‘new poor’ households in Bangladesh, studying their experiences of life before, during and after Covid. These are households that were not poor before Covid, but the impact of the pandemic made them...

17 August 2023


Durdin-er Diaries: chronicles of hard times in Bangladesh

Which governance channels do people whose livelihoods and incomes were severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic navigate while attempting to bounce back? Through a joint IDS and BIGD research project we aim to answer this question by exploring the trajectories of recovery, coping strategies,...

27 January 2023


Journal Article

Women’s Struggles for Empowerment in Bangladesh

Women have made substantial gains in health, education, and political representation in Bangladesh, which has been led by female prime ministers since 1991. Women play a key role in the garment industry, the country’s main export sector, and entrepreneurial ventures funded by microcredit loans...

29 May 2024


Understanding Gender Backlash: Southern Perspectives

IDS Bulletin 55.1

Far from seeing continued steady progress on gender equality, we are currently witnessing significant backlash against gender and sexual rights. Limited and hard-fought gains for some are being reversed, co-opted, and dismantled – all amplified through new social media and digital...

7 March 2024

Sohela Nazneen’s recent work


Research coalition to support Bangladesh’s Covid-19 response and recovery

New IDS-coordinated research programme, launched yesterday, will disburse research grants from a fund of £1 million (BDT 12 crores) to support evidence-informed Covid-19 response and recovery and improve preparedness to tackle future crises in Bangladesh. Over 80 representatives from...

4 February 2022

Past Event

Support Bangladesh’s Covid-19 response and recovery: call for proposals

Please join us for the launch of Covid-19 Learning, Evidence and Research Programme for Bangladesh (CLEAR) and hear about our call for proposals. CLEAR is a two-and-half year research programme led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the BRAC Institute of...

3 February 2022