No Space For Work: Call for research papers on Women, Work & Violence


[Find a downloadable PDF version of this call here.]


No Space For Work: Political economy and challenges to women’s labour participation, safety and autonomy (or NSFW), a national project spearheaded by Zubaan, seeks to apply the lens of violence, and the threat thereof, to the recent patterns in women’s participation in, access to and exit from the workplace, in both the formal and informal sectors of the Indian economy. Contemporaneous work looks at falling female workforce participation through quantitative analyses that can overlook nuance in how violence and workplace and work-related hostility impacts women’s choice. The project seeks to frame violence through a broader and supra-economic understanding, not merely in terms of the physical or interpersonal violence women may face at work, but the broader structures of violence that impact women’s relationship with work, whether paid or unpaid.

This action research project bases itself in India geographically and will involve women workers in the paid, formal sectors, as well as women who do unpaid and undocumented work, and those who choose to, or are forced to, stay out of work or to exit work. The project will engage with construction, sanitation, healthcare and care work, agricultural and allied sectors, domestic work, and sex work with migration status, queer and trans identities, and disabilities as a cross cutting theme throughout.

Zubaan is opening a call for applications for the year 2020 to young researchers working at this intersection of gender and labour in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana and West Bengal. The selected applications will be eligible for a small fund to prepare a research paper in tandem with our project work in these locations, that focuses on women’s experience of work and the violence thereof and therein. The research paper and the work will also have to involve findings from the participative workshops (wherever necessary) and attempt to bridge the gap in understanding quantitative and qualitative research for the particular sector in the specified locations.




  1. Selected applicants will research and write a paper of 8000 words (minimum), collaborate with other researchers online, and attend project workshop(s) in their region of research (wherever necessary).
  2. The papers will focus on supporting research that:
    1. Examines how both actual violence and the fear and threat of it, in private and public spaces, influence women’s experience of work
    2. Assesses gender-based violence, work-related hostility and structural measures for redressal through trade unions, employers and the state
    3. Seeks to build a collective nuanced understanding and definition of work, as well as its historical and continuing precarity in relation to women’s work in the current neoliberal economy
    4. Will look at the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic crisis and its effect on women’s work and autonomy
  3. This call is applicable to research in the specified sectors of construction, sanitation, healthcare and care work, agricultural and allied sectors, domestic work, and sex work. Proposals for research in allied sectors (for example, women workers in mines) and overlapping sectors of work will also be accepted.
  4. The researcher will also be expected to engage with (as far as possible) in-depth work around workshop areas, in collaboration with local coordinators. This may change keeping in mind the pandemic and health concerns and travel restrictions.
  5. The papers may be academic research papers, long-form journalistic essays or long interviews on a particular subject, thematically aligned with the call. Hybrid or creative forms are welcome.
  6. These papers will be published as part of the NSFW research project and will be used as source material for producing audio, video and graphic material for distribution in the communities engaged with the project.
  7. This is a continuing call. First drafts are expected within six months of selection or by March 2021, whichever is earlier.

[Note: If you have a proposal that involves a longer engagement/case study on gender and labour within the project ambit, please write to us at]




  1. Sustained engagement with gender, labour and type of work/sectoral experience as detailed above.
  2. Base in or currently working out of the specified project locations — Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana and West Bengal.

[Note: If you do not belong to any of the specified locations but have a similar proposal focusing on women, work and labour, please reach out to us at]

  1. Fluency in language spoken in region of research/project locations
  2. Experience in academic writing on work or labour in English (preferred, not mandatory)




Interested persons should send their applications, including the documents mentioned below, to

  1. A proposal (maximum two pages) clearly describing the research you will undertake (the subject of your research as well as the methodologies and mediums you intend you use), your sources (primary and secondary), and a proposed timeline.
  2. A writing sample of roughly 500 words that has the same focus as your proposed paper OR a previous research paper.
  3. Your CV and any other relevant information about yourself that might be necessary.
  4. Two references, preferably from people who know your research or other work




All research proposals will be screened by a selection committee. The committee will prepare a shortlist based on pre-decided criteria and may wish to interview some candidates. Interviews can take place by Skype or phone or in person. All interviewees will be informed of the final status of their proposals. The committee’s decision will be final.




The first draft of the selected papers is expected within six months of confirmation or March 2021(whichever is earlier), allowing for more time if a project workshop does not occur during this time. Papers may need to be revised after the first draft. Depending on the feedback, a month may be given for the required revisions.




The selected researchers will be paid an amount of INR 35,000, less applicable taxes. Payments will be made in two instalments: 50 per cent on approval of the project and signature of contract, and the remaining on the completion of the study.

Travel and other allowances for workshop participation will be covered by Zubaan and is exclusive of the research amount.



Zubaan(regd. 2003) is a charitable trust that bolsters feminist research as a chronicler, participant and publisher of women’s movements in India. From 2012-2016, it hosted the Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia (SVI) project, which looked at structural and social impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence, and funded generative research on the same, across five South Asian nations. NSFW has grown out of the learnings made and capacities built through these four years of work.