Faculty Mentor

Dr. Vandana Asthana

Document Type

PowerPoint or Text of Presentation

Publication Date



International Affairs


As a complex, diverse and dynamic region with diverging, constantly changing constitutional and jurisprudential contexts as well as lasting legacies of patriarchy, South Asia’s traditions of public interest litigation are one of the most well-studied institutions by Western audiences due to their contradictory progressive and innovative nature. Particularly in India, where public interest litigation gives ordinary citizens extraordinary access to the highest courts of justice, questions have been raised as to the effectiveness of public interest litigation as a tool to address gender disparities across the region. Although Supreme Court justices have been a key ally in eliminating legal barriers to gender discrimination, the structure of the courts still reflect the patriarchal norms that plague society. Furthermore, a literature and case study review of gender-based litigation from India and Nepal reveals that legalistic gains are insufficient to meaningfully change the status of women relative to men in these countries. Without enforcement and policy change in legislative institutions, women still lack systemic power to change the socioeconomic barriers to equality.