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Being NGO girls: gender, subjectivities and everyday life in Kolkata

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This article discusses the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a cultural and political force in shaping the gendered and classed subjectivities of young women growing up in ‘red-light areas’ in Kolkata, India. It foregrounds the flexible deployment of NGO gender narratives by ‘subjects’ of NGO development to improve their everyday lives. Drawing on debates of NGOization, post-colonial urban Indian femininities and intersectionality, it demonstrates how several young women who grew up as ‘subjects’ of NGO development mobilize, reject and improvise contested NGO-inspired femininities for their everyday gain. At the same time, it illustrates how NGO gender narratives that are useful to some young women in their renegotiation of gender norms are deemed ineffective, if not obstructive, by other young women, particularly those whose lives remain entangled in multiple marginalities.
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Keywords: India; NGOs; ONG; development; gender; género, desarrollo; juventud; red-light areas; youth; zonas rojas

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford,OX1 3QY, UK

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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