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.