Across the global South, poor women’s lives are embedded in their social relationships and governed not just by formal institutions – rules that exist on paper – but by informal norms and practices. Village Ties takes the reader to Bangladesh, a country that has risen from the ashes of war, natural disaster, and decades of resource drain to become a development miracle. The book argues that grassroots women’s mobilization programs can empower women to challenge informal institutions when such programs are anti-oppression, deliberative, and embedded in their communities. Qayum dives into the work of Polli Shomaj (PS), a program of the development organization BRAC to show how the women of PS negotiate with state and society to alter the rules of the game, changing how poor people access resources including safety nets, the law, and governing spaces. These women create a complex and rapidly transforming world where multiple overlapping institutions exist – formal and informal, old and new, desirable and undesirable. In actively challenging power structures around them, these women defy stereotypes of poor Muslim women as backward, subservient, oppressed, and in need of saving.
About the Author
NAYMA QAYUM is an associate professor of Asian studies and global and international studies at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York.
"Drawing on sustained and in-depth engagement with Polli Somaj, a program associated with the NGO BRAC, Qayum argues among other things that NGOs can play a critical role in development: in linking marginalized citizens with state services and societal resources, and in shifting cultural practices through offering alternative or competing 'logics of appropriateness.' Written in carefully crafted, evocative prose, Village Ties is a welcome addition to the field." — Dina M. Siddiqi
"Village Ties does something new and valuable by telling a more complicated story about NGOs and rural Bangladeshi women. Nayma Qayum shows how these activists tackle the informal institutions that keep rural women poor and powerless, and in so doing, help build the necessary foundations for women’s power. Scholars of civil society and NGOs, of Bangladesh’s development, and of women’s empowerment will find this fascinating, full of stories and substantive arguments about the deep roots of social change." — Naomi Hossain
"Confronting Social Norms is Critical for Women's Empowerment in Bangladesh, a New Book by Political Science Alumna Shows" - an interview with Nayma Qayum — CUNY.edu
"Contributes to scholarship that attends to ordinary people’s lived experiences to understand how marginalised communities solve political and social problems." — LSE Review of Books
"Village Ties: Women, NGOs, and Informal Institutions in Rural Bangladesh" interview with Nayma Qayum — New Books Network: New Books in Gender Studies
"?Changing the Rules of the Game," by Aleta Mayne — College Magazine