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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 ‘Gender and Development Higher Education: Exploring Pedagogical Approaches, Learning Outcomes, and Potential for Promoting Gender Transformative Change Over Time’.

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’.


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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...




Gender Equality and Building Back Better

Positioning Paper

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected men and women differently, exacerbating existing gender inequalities across a range of areas including health, education and livelihoods. Globally, women and girls are also experiencing increased levels of gender-based violence. The pandemic has highlighted the...

30 September 2020

Journal Article

Introduction: Contentious Women’s Empowerment in South Asia

Questions of women's power remain a matter of heated debate globally, but take on a heightened intensity in a South Asia featuring rapid economic growth and structural transformation in recent decades. This Special Issue aims to improve understanding of how the women of South Asia are gaining...

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Sohela Nazneen & 2 others

28 November 2019

Sohela Nazneen’s recent work



Our work seeks to ensure citizens are represented and governed fairly in a world of changing state authorities.  Through international partnerships and networks, we will seek to influence donors, research organisations, governments and civil society to promote social justice and good governance...