Human Rights as Practice—Agency, Power, and Strategies
The three Dalit women’s livelihood entitlement struggles provide insights for operationalizing development strategies to secure rights-based entitlements and freedoms. A central point is the reorientation of human rights from law to action-oriented practice. Through exercising their agency to overcome unequal power relations and secure entitlements and freedoms, actors generate discourses constitutive of human rights. This process involves interconnected struggles for redistribution and for recognition. Therein, agency is better understood in relation to structural power, which shapes Dalit women’s sense of entitlement, their organizational capacities, and strategies. At the same time, their intersectional identities sometimes produce conflicting interests, which condition their agency. Power relations also shape the women’s pathways to entitlement in terms of institutional access, positioning of their demands, and political strategies. In this process, external development interveners can support the institutional legitimation of Dalit women’s entitlements by playing a crucial bridging role between state actors and the women.
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