Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping and the Central Committee pledged their adherence to the basic national policy of gender equality, “as a code of conduct and value standard” for the entire society. It further advocated equal political rights for women through various strategic measures such as laws and policies that would ensure equal access to economic resources and participation in the economic construction in family and society, including “equal sharing of housework” and family responsibilities such as care work. The question is: Does gender equality and women empowerment figure in the soft power tools that were – and are - used to influence the world about the “good China story”? The talk would present an analysis of China’s soft power engagement with the global south, with an attempt to explore the policies and practices of gender equality and women’s empowerment. After an initial discursive view on the distinctive characteristics of China’s soft power, it would underline the major instrumentalities in its global south engagement, drawing examples from South Asia. The author argues that the question of gender equality and women’s empowerment have been missing throughout the development of soft power mechanisms or instrumentalities. Although, in multilateral platforms such as the United Nations and world conferences as well as in domestic state planning, some policy attention was given to the question of gender equality and women empowerment, these policy pronouncements have largely remained as statements of policy intentions.
About the Speaker
Govind Kelkar is a feminist scholar, with a PhD in the political economy of China. She is a Visiting Professor, Council for Social Development and Institute for Human Development, India. She is the Executive Director, GenDev Centre for Research and Innovation, India, and was a Senior Adviser, Landesa, Seattle, USA (May 2013-March 2020). In concurrent assignments, Kelkar was the International Research Coordinator of ENERGIA International, The Netherlands and Research Lead on Gender and Energy at Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai. She is a Distinguished Adjunct Faculty of Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand. Kelkar has the position of Honorary Professor in Institute of Ethnology, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, China, and Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi. She has authored 16 books and numerous scholarly publications. Her recent book is titled, Witch Hunts: Culture, Patriarchy and Structural Transformation (co-authored), Cambridge University Press, 2020.
About the Chair
Patricia Uberoi is an Emeritus Fellow at the Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), Delhi. She served as the Chairperson of the Institute of Chinese Studies from 2015-2021. A sociologist by training, Uberoi has taught Sociology at the University of Delhi and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and retired as Professor of Social Change and Development at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Her research interests centre on aspects of family, kinship, gender, popular culture and social policy in respect to both India and China. In addition to her monograph on themes of family, kinship and marriage through various genres of Indian popular culture (Freedom and Destiny: Gender, Family and Popular Culture in India, 2006), she has edited Family, Kinship and Marriage in India (1993), Social Reform, Sexuality and the State (1996), Tradition, Pluralism and Identity (co-ed., 1999), Anthropology in the East: Founders of Indian Sociology and Anthropology (co-ed., 2007), Marriage, Migration and Gender (co-ed., 2008). Her most recent publication is the 4-volume Asian Families and Intimacies (co-ed. with Ochiai Emiko, 2021), a compendium of original translations from Asian languages, in which she had sourced and edited Part III, Transforming Asian Sexualities.
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