Proverbial statements about women being second-class citizens are familiar in many societies. It is vitally important to challenge the many barriers to full citizenship that confront women, and barriers to women's human rights in general. Development interventions must help to do this. The denial of equal citizenship to women is a phenomenon familiar in many parts of the world, but it assumes alarming proportions in societies that are still largely 'pre-modern'. Development workers should not be deflected from addressing these issues because of sensitivities about not becoming involved in 'other' cultures and traditions. While these sensitivities are a welcome development in many ways, a blind eye should not be turned to the injustices and oppressions to which women are subjected. The development sector must devise effective strategies to deal with culturally sensitive issues, such as forging partnerships with indigenous social movements. This article draws on experience from India, illustrating its argument with three cases of violations of women's rights.
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