Sexuality, Gender and Citizenship Struggles: Influencing Policies and Building Capacity to Challenge Exclusion

Submitting Institution

Newcastle University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Other Studies In Human Society

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Summary of the impact

Research on sexual and gender inequalities in accessing citizenship has produced significant impacts by:

  • Informing and influencing policy debate and formation in the UK and EU, and within Nepali governmental organisations, NGOs, and with international donors and agencies working in the region.
  • Assisting the development of advocacy and policy implementation on sexualities equalities in the UK through capacity building in local authorities, healthcare, voluntary and community organisations, and on post-trafficking citizenship issues through capacity building in NGOs concerned with human rights in Nepal and internationally.

Underpinning research

Richardson's pioneering research on gender, sexuality and citizenship carried out over the past fifteen years, since her appointment as Chair at Newcastle, has raised important questions about the way citizenship is understood. Specifically, it establishes how citizenship is connected to sexuality, as well as to gender, race and class (1, 2). This theoretical work underpinned two major ESRC funded empirical studies, in different global contexts, concerned with the rights demands of different minority groups. This research has significantly advanced understandings of how stigma associated with being outwith sexual/gender norms can make accessing rights of citizenship difficult or even impossible in some circumstances (3).

The first project (2007-2010) examined the implementation of sexual and gender minorities' equalities initiatives in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NI) (, carried out with Dr. Monro at Huddersfield University. It highlighted the importance of implementation mechanisms in driving forward the equalities agenda for sexual and gender minorities, and identified barriers and patterns of resistance to such work that affect implementation and access to citizenship (4). A key research finding was that despite recent legislative and policy shifts extending rights to sexual and gender minority communities, sexualities equalities work is unevenly spread and far from becoming normalised. Rurality, political hostility, lack of local authority interest and associated stigma are limiting factors (5). In particular, this research showed the importance of understanding implementation processes and barriers for professional training and practice, and for policy debates about the delivery of equality measures.

The second project (2009-2012), an interdisciplinary collaboration undertaken with colleagues from Newcastle in Sociology (Poudel) and Geography (Laurie, Townsend), is the first to systematically analyse women's post-trafficking experiences ( Most work on trafficking addresses its causes and characteristics, feeding into policy frameworks targeting the `rescue' of those experiencing diverse trafficking situations. Post-trafficking starts when these scenarios end and describes the processes and practices associated with leaving trafficking situations. Richardson's involvement in the team brought conceptual expertise on sexuality and citizenship, and specific skills in the empirical exploration of these issues. The research was carried out through an innovative collaborative partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Shakti Samuha, one of the first anti-trafficking NGOs, globally, to be founded by post-trafficked women. It brought trafficked women's voices into policy development and implementation in relation to human rights, which is significant because post-trafficking issues intersect with access to citizenship. The underpinning research shows that trafficked women are typically stigmatised (labelled as prostitutes and/or `HIV carriers'), and experience social rejection from their families and communities (6). Lacking family support makes it difficult for them to access citizenship and ensuing rights, as citizenship is typically conferred after the age of 16 through a male relative, usually a girl's father or husband. This can result in post-trafficked women being unable to confer citizenship on their children, either because they lack citizenship themselves or their children were born in trafficking situations (and lack a known father).

References to the research

1. Richardson, D. (1998) `Sexuality and Citizenship', Sociology, 32 (1): 83-100. DOI: 10.1177/0038038598032001006


2. Richardson, D. (2000) Rethinking Sexuality. London: Sage. Available on request.


3. Richardson, D. (2000) `Constructing Sexual Citizenship: Theorising Sexual Rights', Critical Social Policy, 20 (1): 105-35. DOI: 10.1177/026101830002000105


4. Richardson, D. and Monro, S. (2012) Sexuality, Equality and Diversity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Paperback and hardback. REF 2 output: 156669.

5. Richardson, D. and Monro, S. (2013) `Public Duty and Private Prejudice: Sexualities Equalities in Local Government', The Sociological Review, 61 (1): 131-152. REF 2 output, 170768. DOI: 10.1111/1467-954X.12007


6. Richardson, D., Poudel, M. and Laurie, N. (2009) `Sexual Trafficking in Nepal: Constructing Citizenship and Livelihoods', Gender, Place and Culture, 16 (3): 257-76. REF 2 output: 153963. DOI:10.1080/09663690902836300


Research Grants

Principal Investigator Grant Title Sponsor Period of Grant Value
Diane Richardson Organisational Change, Resistance and Democracy: LGBT Equalities Initiatives in Local Government (RES-062-23-0577) Economic and Social Research Council September 2007-March 2010 £235,000 at full economic cost
Diane Richardson Post Trafficking Livelihoods in Nepal: Women, Sexuality and Citizenship (RES-062-23-1490) Economic and Social Research Council October 2009- April 2012 £241,000 at full economic cost

Details of the impact

1) Influencing Policy Development and Debate

The sexualities equalities project's findings advanced understanding of organisational resistance to implementing policies granting new citizenship rights to sexual and gender minorities, which has fed into policy debate and implementation in the UK (IMP1) and in EU member states (IMP2). The research methodology was adapted for a major policy survey of public officials in 18 countries by the Equality and Citizen's Rights Department of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, in order to better understand and enforce EU equalities legislation. The project has also influenced policies at regional and local levels. A key finding was the importance of leadership to champion the equalities agenda and bring others on board. This directly informed Newcastle Hospitals Equality Delivery System which recommended that `people in senior management positions... give a clear message about the importance of the sexualities/trans equalities agenda in relation to employment opportunities and all areas of service provision' (IMP3).

The post-trafficking research findings and participatory methodology brought trafficked women's perspectives into policy development and debates.

i) In Kathmandu, in February 2011, an Activist Workshop set up and led by the research team brought together NGOs, donors, trafficked women and high-level government representatives (80+). Preliminary research findings were used to review NGO programming and led directly to the following policy debate and political lobbying.

  • Shakti Samuha, supported by the research team, drafted demands on citizenship rights/livelihoods which were submitted to political parties and elected government and Constituent Assembly (CA) core committees, including the Fundamental Rights Committee (FRC). Six specific recommendations that were raised from the Activist Workshop are listed in this document regarding citizenship provision to women and children in general, plus a number pertaining to trafficked women and children whose mothers were sexually exploited abroad (IMP4).
  • This led to the FRC Chair soliciting case studies of post-trafficked women and their children's exclusion from citizenship from Shakti Samuha.
  • Case studies co-selected by Shakti Samuha and the research team were then presented by the FRC to the CA recommending that `children without having a father's known identity should be granted rights of citizenship'. This demand was adopted in March 2012, and is registered by the CA Secretariat to be ratified as part of the new Constitution when the Secretariat and CA are re-elected (currently scheduled for November 2013) (IMP5).

ii) As a technical expert to the National Committee in Controlling Human Trafficking, the research team directly influenced recommendations on access to social rights of citizenship for women post-trafficking (e.g. housing, healthcare, victim support fund, education, livelihoods), later endorsed by Cabinet in the National Plan of Action in May 2012 (IMP6).

iii) The American Bar Association used research findings to formulate policy on witness protection and support services moving to ensure a `more nuanced and survivor-centric framework for assessing survivors needs and how justice actors should address those' (IMP7), citing the collaboration between Shakti Samuha and Newcastle University in the post-trafficking study as an example of best practice in their Human Trafficking Assessment Tool Report (2011: 80-81).

iv) DFID's Asia social development agenda was directly informed by the research team's input into the development, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of DFID's large anti-trafficking regional programme (£9.75 million: 2011-18). DFID's Senior Social Development Advisor for Asia states `[y]our research helped us understand the complexity of trafficking and how it works and how it interacts and who to listen to', and that the research team's input into the M&E tender selection process (Dec. 2011-Jan 2012) `gave professionalism, rigour and expertise to our selection panel' (IMP8).

v) The research team influenced wider debates on post-trafficking through extensive engagement with the Nepal media, including: over 11 TV and 25 radio interviews (some web-streamed internationally), 8 print media articles (half in the major English daily, Kathmandu Post), and conceptual input into the anti-trafficking documentary The Color of Brave (made by Film Himalaya). Metrics on research project website visits indicate impact on a large readership (51,932 visitors, January 2010-October 2013). Figures for the last year show 75% new visits, with visitors from 10 countries (Google Analytics).

2) Capacity Building

The sexualities equalities research included Action Learning Sets (ALS), groups which met four times, over six months in each of the four case study areas of the UK. This had a direct influence on capacity building networks for the 33 local government and voluntary/community workers who took part. In each ALS members shared examples of good practice and identified action points which were then reviewed at subsequent ALS meetings, where the next steps for implementing action were decided. For example, identifying LGBT equalities training available in Northern Ireland (NI) was a key action point for the NI ALS. The next step was to design and plan training, which resulted in a joint capacity building event with the NI Equalities Commission in April 2010. In some cases the ALS continued after the project ended; for example the Southern England ALS organised a training workshop with a regional Equalities Network. The underpinning research has also informed practice guidelines in Local Authorities, housing associations, the voluntary and community sector, and healthcare. For example, the Social Care Institute for Excellence At a Glance Report cited the research findings in its recommendations for the development of training programmes (IMP9).

The post-trafficking research generated impact through capacity building to enhance survivors' input into lobbying for citizenship rights. At the local level in Nepal, drawing on the research team's expertise, a modular training programme in action-research methodologies was put together. This was delivered to the Shakti Samuha leadership, which consisted of 12 post-trafficked women, between 2010 and 2012. The importance of this training was emphasised in their presentation `Trafficking Survivors to Social Researchers: Reflections on a Journey' to the `Making Livelihoods: Sexuality, Citizenship and Stigma' Conference (Kathmandu, November 2011; co-hosted by IOM, Newcastle University and Shakti Samuha; the conference attracted 100+ participants including CA members and senior policy-makers): `Research conducted by survivors themselves would be more effective and would help to identify the real status of trafficking survivors, identify their needs and make recommendations to stakeholders in order to fulfil their actual needs' (IMP10). As a result of this training and with on-going consultation with the research team, in 2012-13 Shakti Samuha designed and implemented an action-research project to improve trafficked women's access to justice when taking traffickers to court. Research insights were also used to provide training at national and international levels to AATWIN (2010), Nepal's national anti-trafficking organisation (32 member groups), and via IOM Turkmenistan (2012), to high-level Central Asian policy makers, setting the scene to shape policy agendas.

Sources to corroborate the impact

(IMP1) Newcastle City Council's Sexual Orientation Equality Plan 2008-2009, p.13. Available at:

(IMP2) European White Paper (2011) Combating Homophobia: Local Policies for Equality on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, p.12. Co-funded by the EU Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme and AHEAD (Against Homophobia European Local Administration Devices). Available at:

(IMP3) The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2011) Evidence for Equality Delivery System Grading, p.1, p.5. Available at:

(IMP4) Shakti Samuha's Proposal to Change Current Citizenship Provision in the New Constitution. 8 March 2011, Kathmandu, Nepal. Available on request.

(IMP5) The Fundamental Rights Committee's final submission to the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, approved May 2012, p.5. Available on request.

(IMP6) The National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Trafficking in Women and Children 2068 (AD 2012), Kathmandu Nepal, May 2012, pp.7-15. Available at:

(IMP7) Factual Statement by the then Country Director (Nepal) American Bar Association, following attendance at the `Making Livelihoods: Sexuality, Citizenship and Stigma' Conference November, 2011, Kathmandu, Nepal. Available on request.

(IMP8) Factual Statement from the Regional Senior Social Development Advisor, Asia Regional Team, DFID (Department for International Development), London UK. Available on request.

(IMP9) Social Care Institute for Excellence, At a Glance 42: Personalisation Briefing: Implications for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) People, April 2011, p.4. Available at:

(IMP10) Factual Statement from the Chairperson of the Anti-trafficking organisation, Shakti Samuha. Available on request.