Post-doc: Power, Poverty & Politics

​The International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University Rotterdam the Netherlands is seeking to fill three full-time (100%) vacancies for the position of Post-Doctoral Researcher for a two year period from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018. We welcome applications from prospective postdoc researchers who are interested in doing operational research on gender, governance and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The researchers will be part of the research project 'Power, Poverty and Politics (PPP) in DRC', a subproject of the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium led by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in London. The project is financed by UK Aid for the UK Government. It comprises a network of partners and research under the project is set up as close collaborations between international and Congolese universities and research institutes. 

This two-year research program (1 January 2017- 31 December 2018) aims to deepen existing research on governance, service delivery and economic growth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to examine the details of policy implementation from national to local levels, to generate lessons from what works in promoting positive change and how to measure change. The PPP will do this by tackling a range of sector specific topics that link closely to Department for International Development (DfID) programs and policies and are thus chosen for their potential to contribute practical operational knowledge.

  1. Women, power and society. This project concerns the question of how the changing roles of women in DRC affect their power relations, with a particular focus on social accountability and decision making. It will be based on case studies of development programmes that incorporate social accountability mechanisms (including community scorecards and local community committees), and seek to assess the broader impact of these programmes on gender relations. 
  2. Everyday politics and practices of family planning in DRC. Promoting and protecting women's reproductive rights and health is key to women's empowerment and gender equality. This proposal concerns current policies and practices of family planning; debates on policy and perceptions of people regarding family planning and the role of societal stakeholders. It takes a 360 degrees, mixed methods look at family planning services. 
  3. Mining reforms and the changing roles of women in mining communities. The artisanal mining sector constitutes a vital source of income for many poor women and men - a substantial part of the population in DRC. In the course of the past decade,several attempts have been made to promote good governance in the mining sector. This study will focus on the gendered implications of ongoing reforms for the women and communities involved in artisanal mining in (Eastern) DRC.

More details.

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Post-doc: Gender & Fishing Livelihoods

Fish is a critical source of nutrition and livelihoods in low-income countries such as Bangladesh. WorldFish has played a key role in increasing the supply and availability of fish in low-income contexts through the Livestock & Fish CGIAR Research Program. This impact-oriented research will be the foundation for continuing innovation in fish breeding in the upcoming Fish Agri-foods CGIAR Research Program (FISH CRP). A major challenge for sustainable nutrition and livelihoods security is the development of robust strains of fish that meet the specific needs of poor women and men engaging in smallholder aquaculture. Currently, there are pressing gaps in knowledge regarding gendered preferences and outcomes. In particular, evidence is required as to whether, to what extent, and why the focus and results of fish genetic breeding programs have different outcomes for men and women. This includes the extent to which improved strains meet different needs that women and men may have, and in what way, such technologies may reinforce or shift gender roles, relations, and equity of outcomes. Addressing this gap is the primary focus of this Postdoctoral Fellow (PDF) position.

The PDF will tackle the overarching research question: How do the intended gender-equitable outcomes of the fish breeding program compare with the empirical gendered preferences and impacts, and what are the lessons for breeding program design, implementation and fish seed distribution? The PDF will do so through undertaking a systematic literature review and in depth, mixed methods empirical studies in Bangladesh in relation to the FISH CRP/WorldFish's tilapia and carp breeding program.

Additionally, the PDF will also play a key role in identifying, refining, and communicating to researchers across a range of FISH CRP countries insights into best practice and cutting-edge gender methods and strategies appropriate to different types and phases of aquaculture and fisheries research.

More details.

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Post-doc: Migration, livelihoods, gender

Two-year full-time postdoc Migration, livelihoods and SRHR: A triple case-study of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh

The Jahangir Nagar University (JU), Research Initiatives Bangladesh (RIB) and the Anthropology Department at the VU University are looking for a post-doc researcher for the two year WOTRO funded project "Migration, livelihoods and SRHR: A triple case-study of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka, Bangladesh". This call pertains to the case-study of young female migrant workers in the Ready Made Garments Industry. The post-doc will be stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Description of the project: Existing SRHR policies and programs in Bangladesh are predominantly geared to reducing fertility through family planning and safe motherhood. However, SRH is more than fertility and contraceptive use. An increasing number of NGOs are now working towards the improvement of adolescents' and women's SRHR in rural and urban Bangladesh. Their programs are geared towards the awareness-raising of SRR and the improvement of SRH interventions. Nonetheless, Bangladesh still has the highest fertility rate for adolescent girls in the world. The scale of gender violence is unprecedented, and (access to) SRH service is extremely limited. There is still much work needed to assure women and men of their SRHR.

This project focuses on three different groups of young female migrants (YFMs) in Dhaka: ready-made garment workers, Garo beauty parlor workers, and female sex workers. Consistent economic growth for three decades has caused a rapid increase of female participation in the workforce and rural-urban migration. A focus on these separate cases of highly vulnerable young women allows us to acquire a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of gender, age, class, ethnicity and religions, income generating activities, sexuality and migration. The project approaches SRHR as grounded and contextualized in the daily lives of YFMs. It will identify their needs, desires, knowledge, possibilities and (structural) restraints regarding SRHR. We will look at how self-determination and sexual autonomy of young (unmarried) women living and working in the urban context are enhanced or obstructed through their income-generating activities. A high degree of collaboration is expected between the three cases. The project contains different knowledge sharing and capacitating activities aimed to transform academic knowledge into policy or practical knowledge and skills. The project will use an array of qualitative methods which includes ethnographic methods and Participatory Action Research.

Research Questions:
1. How do existing national and local policies, legislation and services affect YFMs and help or obstruct them to exercise their SRHR?
2. What are the needs, desires and knowledge regarding SRHR of vulnerable female migrants?
3. How does YFMs' pre-migration situation contribute to the choices they make in their migrant trajectory?
4. How is the self-determination and autonomy regarding the sexuality of (unmarried) young women living and working in the urban context enhanced or obstructed through their positions as migrants?
5. How do the different types of income activities of this group of migrants create conditions that positively or negatively affect their sexual and reproductive health?

• Completed applications should be emailed to Meghna Guhathakurta, Ainoon Naher, Ellen Bal, and Lorraine Nencel.

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The Making of a Better World

Rosalind Eyben spent a career as a practitioner in international development and then as an academic on the subject. Her 2014 book, "International Aid and the Making of a Better World: Reflexive Practice" is one of the few books that critically self-analyzes a personal trajectory. Unlike some personal journals/journeys of aid workers, this focuses upon teaching the processes of being reflexive and the value it adds. It poses challenging questions to the sector, and of the author, the latter of which provides a powerful way of teaching the reflexive practice. The book's preface opens with: "These people were working in international development to help make a more just and fairer world, yet many of them, like me, sometimes worried we were inadvertently helping maintain the inequities we aimed to reduce. This book is for all such development professionals" (p. xii).

One of the interesting experiences Eyben brings is that of the transitional period between colonial administration and aid, and the similar faces with which those posts were staffed. More broadly, the practice remains heavily influenced by this history: "international aid's colonial roots have continued to shape aid practice, most obviously in the earlier decades through the lived experience of many development practitioners who had started their careers in colonial administration… More contentious is the postcolonial studies argument that the mindset of development agencies has not shifted since colonial times… Is the focus on alleviating poverty a continuation of the colonial discourse of the White Man's Burden in which famine is the consequence of generic poverty and never due to global inequalities and decisions made by the rich and powerful? Development professionals, whatever their origins be it First or Third World, should debate the colonial legacy of development and the implications for practice of a discourse that is alleged to be arrogant, ethnocentric, rooted in European cultures and reflective of a dominant Western world view" (p. 40).

Throughout the book, race, gender and power are explored in critical and reflexive ways. For example, Eyben writes: "When I barged my way to the head of the queue in a Kinshasa hospital by taking advantage of my whiteness to give my child's life priority over the lives of other women's children, it seemed a perfectly natural thing for me to do. Almost, but not quite normal, otherwise I would not have remembered it. I have probably chosen to forget other occasions when I may have done something similar. In the early years of international aid, racism and gender discrimination were more prevalent and most development professionals were white and male" (p. 59).

On participation and human rights:

  • "There was an alternative vision of civil society – the one I liked – associated with people-centred approaches to development in which not everything could be left to markets. Ideas about participation, growing in influence since the 1970s, joined up with a post-Cold-War emphasis on the indivisibility of human rights that by the end of the 1990s led to 'rights-based approaches' to development. I saw understanding participation as a right, rather than as an instrument to greater aid effectiveness, as one of the biggest shifts in donor thinking in recent years. I believe it meant switching from a technical to political understanding of development." (p. 87)
  • "'The long and the short of it,' reflected the chairman of the village development committee, 'is that we used to see some benefits from aid money – a water scheme or a road. Now that you foolish donors are giving all your money to the politicians it disappears into their pockets and we see none of it. Are you from cloud cuckoo land?" (p. 116)
  • "Equally important principles were in conflict – of aid helping people realise their rights and of recipient governments' controlling the aid they receive. Finding this nearly impossible to resolve, I sometimes chose to ignore one of the principles and paint a simpler picture of development practice, where the decisions were either right or wrong in accordance with established procedures and available evidence." (p. 126)

Although it may have been unintended, for me Eyben's book was also a quasi-ethnographic work of an aid workers life that I have not lived. I've not lived in colonial homes or attended expat parties, nor have I lived in gated communities or compounds. I have worked in countries that were not always safe or calm, but my experience, thus far, has been quite different than the one described. In the spirit of reflexivity, this has not always been in the spirit of solidarity. At times it was akin to one of Rosalind's fellow travelers, who started out in the sector that resulted in a particular type of engagement. However, I have also made purposeful choices not to live the 'expat life' when those opportunities did arise.

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Logan Cochrane

logan.cochrane@gmail.com

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