Narratives of violence: the impact of internal displacement on violence against women in Nepal and Myanmar

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: School of Languages & Area Studies

Abstract

Myanmar and Nepal are countries in transition. Both have recently emerged from long-term civil conflicts, and their populations have been afflicted by natural disasters. As a result these two countries have seen rates of internal displacement among the highest in the world (e.g. in 2015, 9200 per 100,000 residents in Nepal, and 3000 per 100,000 in Myanmar). We will document women's explanations of how displacement has affected gendered relations and women's resultant experiences of violence. This will involve collecting unstructured narratives and quantitative data from women who have experienced rural-urban displacement.

This project represents a completely new avenue of inquiry. A previous project, 'Women, Work and Violence', enabled the UoP, IMC, Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research and UNDP Myanmar to establish a successful partnership, combining expertise in communication and impact/uptake strategies (IMC/UNDP) with research and capacity building expertise (UoP/NCCR).

Quantitative data establishes correlations across different demographics. It also generates a mass of evidence needed to leverage policy influence. However, the experience of the research partners points to the utility of an unstructured narrative approach in asking women to share personal, sensitive experiences. We will combine these approaches, conducting narrative interviews in addition to working with the UNDP, who have developed a mobile phone app for quantatitive data collection. The app is currently accessed by 2000 women as part of the UNDP's Self Reliance programme in Myanmar.

We will subsequently create an online data archive, providing a rich resource of personal insights that will benefit both the academy and stakeholders working in women's development. We fully intend for this archive to support the building of a sustained secure and positive future for female survivors of displacement and violence. This goal will be driven by a South-South 'community of practice'.

Planned Impact

The design and implementation of the project's impact strategy will be the primary responsibility of IMC Worldwide, a world-leading development management and consultancy firm with specialist experience working in fragile, post-conflict states including Nepal and Myanmar.

Our research is intended to bring more complex and nuanced insight into displaced women's experiences. We hope that, with these insights, clear and strongly evidenced recommendations will emerge on which policy can be built.

The impact approach will push beyond the resource and time capacity of most medium-sized projects because we have an established infrastructure laid by previous projects. This includes engagement with country-level advisory forums made up of key stakeholders (e.g. academics, CBOs, NGOs, government departments) and including country advisers from DFID. In Myanmar we will continue our engagement with UNDP. In Nepal we have forged positive partnerships with the government's Integrated Women's Development Programme. These links will help us to leverage policy influence.

Impact at the local level is very important. We believe that the process of sharing narratives, which will then be heard beyond the immediate context, will have an empowering effect on our participants.We also hope that through our findings we will be able to identify key educational messages that for promotion.

This project will create networks through a 'Community of Practice' existing in a virtual space and through newsletters. The dynamic interactive website that we will create will act as a resource hub, supporting the work of both stakeholders and academics.

We intend to present this project as an impact model, demonstrating how personal storytelling can be applied to generate innovative, transformative data for use in development. The UNDP phone app that we propose to adapt is also intended to have impact on the ways that data is collected across displaced and otherwise marginalised groups.

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