Sharmila Parmanand (2016)
Having lived in the Philippines, I am interested in how state policies and other interventions targeted at poor women interact with their lived realities. For my master’s thesis at the University of Melbourne, I conducted interviews with female microcredit borrowers to examine the traditional assumption that access to credit empowers women, especially mothers. After working in the anti-human trafficking sector for over two years, I would like to critically assess anti-trafficking discourses and policies in the Philippines. For my PhD in Gender Studies in Cambridge, I will examine the anti-trafficking ecosystem, and in particular, the policy-making process, the knowledge claims made about victims and women in vulnerable employment situations and how these claims are negotiated and produced, the relationships among international funders, the state, and civil society actors, and the effects on women of measures such as raids and rescue operations and rehabilitation. With my work, I hope to give primacy to the experiences of individuals directly affected by these interventions, explore any possible unintended consequences, and contribute to the ongoing conversation about how best to uphold their agency and human rights. I also work as a debating coach and trainer and I have done so on a voluntary basis in 28 countries.