Nepal’s Citizenship Challenges: Gender and Sovereignty in the Himalayas

Memo #326

By Sara Shneiderman – sara.shneiderman [at]

Shneiderman_Nepal__photoIt’s not often that the words “and” and “or” become political slogans, but this has happened in Nepal. A coalition of feminist and rights activists is demanding that the country’s new constitution grant citizenship on the basis of descent through “father or mother,” rather than “father and mother,” as currently proposed… Continue reading

Coalitional Constraints in India: Why we shouldn’t fear Modi

Memo #292

By  Geoffrey Macdonald – GPMacdonald [at]

Polling indicates that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be announced next week as the clear winner of India’s scheduled parliamentary elections. With this result, the worst fears of many Indians and international observers will be realized: Narendra Modi, who is banned from entering the United States for his… Continue reading

The Paradox of Women Leaders in Asian Democracies

Memo #277

By   Timothy S. Rich – [at]

Political life in Asian countries is often characterized as a man’s world, especially compared to its Western counterparts. Yet we have also seen increasing political leadership opportunities for women in the region. Since 2000 alone, women have been elected prime minister in Bangladesh and Thailand, and elected president… Continue reading

Beauty Queens in Post War Japan (Video with Dr. Jan Bardsley)

The study of Japanese beauty queens offers insights into democracy and gender issues in post-war Japan. In the 1905s, Japanese beauty queens were often celebrated as models of democracy. They were confident, willing to travel overseas, and represented the idea of upward social mobility. This captured the imagination of Japanese women and for some, signified a step forward for Japanese women’s rights.
However, women in the beauty contests were constructed as images, only allowed to say certain things and unable to complain. This image of beauty queens belies the true situation of Japanese women in the 1950s who were protesting over a lack of equality. Continue reading

NGOs Prompt Report on 2002 Gujarat Incident

Memo #44 – The 2002 Gujarat incident, in which inter-religious violence fuelled mass riots, resulted in gruesome deaths and injuries. The incident led to a rise in the number of cases of sexual assault and violence against women. On October 15 2010, Members of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) took “the extraordinary measure of requesting a special report because of the seriousness of the violations, the large scale of the violence and the alarming reports that the Committee had seen at the time of the incident”. India submitted this exceptional report to CEDAW almost 9 years after the initial conflict. Continue reading