Action for Empowerment and Accountability

(April 2017 - )

Action for Empowerment and Accountability is an international research programme which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile, conflict, and violent settings.

The programme will develop and apply a variety of innovative, multi-method, interdisciplinary research strategies and data sources, both quantitative and qualitative, such as surveys, diaries which households use to record their experiences of governance, and action learning, to capture, conceptualise, measure, nuance and assess both the impact of social and political action and the interventions of donors and others on empowerment and accountability.

Primarily focusing on five countries (Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan), the programme is being implemented by a consortium which includes: the Institute of Development Studies, the Accountability Research Center, the Collective for Social Science Research, the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives, ITAD, Oxfam GB, and the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research.

Action for Empowerment and Accountability is supported by UK aid from the UK Department for International Development.

The Collective's main study under this programme is "Women's collective action for political expression in Pakistan: advocacy, voting, and representation." It will examine (a) the history of the women's rights movement's successful campaign for the restoration of reserved seats for women in elected bodies and legislatures; (b) the obstacles [political, social and administrative] faced by women who seek to exercise their right to vote, and collective action to overcome these obstacles; (c) the formation and effectiveness of the Women's Caucus at the provincial and national legislatures to enhance women's political participation and further women's rights; (d) women's collective action for reform in election laws to require political parties to increase allocation of tickets on general seats to women and increase women's voice and decision-making power within parties.

The Collective is also participating in a collaborative research group to explore how the binary framings of secular/liberal/elitist/westernized feminists vs. religious/indigenous/pious women have come to influence women's rights struggles for empowerment and accountability in relation to both state and non-state actors. The research contributes to the A4EA framework by (1) amplifying the unintended outcomes of particular constructs of women's empowerment drawn by external actors, including academics, practitioners, policy makers and donors have on local feminists struggling to challenge norms and values that circumscribe rights in fragile contexts and (2) increasing understandings of how collective action can make power-holders accountable for agendas that diminish individual women's rights in the name of the preservation of the cultural rights of the 'community'. The collaboration will generate a series of papers by an international group of scholars to be published in a peer-reviewed feminist academic journal.
Publications and Papers
  1. Ayesha Khan, "Pakistan: Gendered protests during Covid-19". paper at panel ‘Navigating Civic Spaces Under Covid’, ISTR Global Virtual Conference. July 2021.

    Keywords: Covid-19

  2. Ayesha Khan, Aslam Khwaja and Asiya Jawed, Navigating Civic Spaces During a Pandemic: Pakistan Report. December 2020.

    Keywords: Covid-19

  3. Ayesha Khan and Komal Qidwai, Donor Action in Pakistan: A Comparative Case Study of CDIP and AAWAZ. Working Paper, Volume 2021 Number 549. March 2021.

    Keywords: Development

  4. Ayesha Khan, Navigating Civic Spaces in Pakistan Baseline Report. Collective for Social Science Research. September 2020.

    Keywords: Covid-19

  5. Ayesha Khan, Where Does the Global Women’s Movement Go Now? Collective Blog. December 2019.

  6. Asiya Jawed, Performative Protests in Pakistan. Collective Blog. November 2019.

  7. Komal Qidwai, Women Leaders in Action: Lady Health Workers’ Protests. Collective Blog. August 2019.

  8. Mariz Tadros and Ayesha Khan, Beyond the Religious/Secular Binary Trap: Keeping the Focus on Gender Equality. IDS Policy Briefing 165, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. April 2019.

  9. Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi, Empowering Women Politicians in Pakistan: Views from Within. IDS Policy Briefing 168, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. April 2019.

  10. Sana Naqvi, Deconstruction of #MeToo and the new-age feminist movement. Collective Blog. December 2018.

  11. Ayesha Khan and Sana Naqvi, Women in Politics: Gaining Ground for Progressive Outcomes in Pakistan. IDS Working Paper 519, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. November 2018.

  12. Ayesha Khan and Nida Kirmani, Moving Beyond the Binary: Gender-based Activism in Pakistan. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 151-191. November 2018.

  13. Ayesha Khan, Hina Jilani on the value of the rights discourse in the context of political Islam: Excerpts from an interview with Ayesha Khan. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 240-247. November 2018.

  14. Mariz Tadros and Ayesha Khan, Challenging Binaries to Promote Women's Equality: Introduction to Special Issue. Feminist Dissent, Issue 3, pages 1-22. November 2018.

  15. Ayesha Khan, How Aid has helped Pakistan’s Women’s Movement achieve Political Breakthroughs. From Poverty to Power, Oxfam Blog. October 2018.

    Keywords: Aid, Gender, Politics

  16. Ayesha Khan, Which is worse: corruption or misogyny? Collective Blog. August 2018.

    Keywords: Democracy, Politics, Women

  17. Sana Naqvi, Identity Search: Women and Social Media Politics. Collective Blog. June 2018.

  18. Ayesha Khan, Rest in Power, Asma Jahangir. Collective Blog. February 2018.

  19. Ayesha Khan, Pakistani politics: Where are the women? Collective Blog. October 2017.

    Keywords: Politics, Women

  20. Sana Naqvi, Jihadi Vogue. Collective Blog. September 2017.

    Keywords: Democracy, Terrorism, Women

  21. Ayesha Khan, Pakistan's Jirgas: Buying Peace at the Expense of Women's Rights? Collective Blog. July 2017.

News / Events
Ayesha Khan presented research from the Action for Empowerment and Accountability research programme : ‘Women in politics: gaining ground for progressive outcomes in Pakistan’, at ‘From Politics to Power? Rethinking the Politics of Development’, ESID Conference, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester.
Ayesha Khan presented at a session on Gender Justice and Women's Rights in the International Policy Conference: The Social Economy of Gender, hosted by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) in Lahore.
Women's Voice: Political participation and representation. A4EA launch event jointly hosted by CSSR and IDEAS.
Collective Seminars