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Theorizing Gendering Development Notes

Politics Notes > Gender and Development Notes

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*Link - 1.2 Feminism & Difference / 1.4 Men, Masculinities & Development // PO381 1.1.4 Engendering Conflict

Theorizing Gender & Development

How might looking at 'gender' rather than 'women' add value to development research and policy?*

Is gender mainstreaming in development policy a political co-option?

Critically assess the limitations of the Women in Development (WID) approach in light of Gender and Development (GAD) and intersectionality*. [2018]

Evaluate the linkages that exist between more recent commitments to gender equality by Northern policymakers and earlier approaches to poverty reduction, framed by the WID approach. [2017,

Critically assess the legacies and limitations of the WID approach [2016]

Critically assess the WID approach as a means of addressing the inequalities faced by women in development processes. [2014]

Critically assess the contributions made by GAD scholars in addressing the limitations of the WID
literature. [2013]


Gender - 'the process by which individuals who are born into biological categories of male or female, become the social categories of men and women through the acquisition of locally-defined attributes of masculinity and femininity' [Kabeer, 1991]

Widely used, yet widely misunderstood and often conflated with 'sex' or 'women'

By assuming my gender is 'obvious' (perceptible) and thus 'irrelevant' when introducing myself, I am benefiting from cisgender, binary privilege - 'implies that 'masculine' and 'feminine' traits together constitute and exhaust the whole of human possibilities' [Delphy]. Gender distinctions matter when society does not accommodate/recognize you.

Fa'afafine - translation: 'in the manner of' (fa'a) + 'woman' (fafine) - are individuals who identify as nonbinary in Samoan culture. It defies Western categories of 'transgender', 'homosexual' and 'transvestite'.

In the early 1970s, a general disenchantment with development efforts in Third World countries led to a search for alternative strategies, and a growing awareness that women (addressed entirely in the context of their reproductive roles) were peripheral to development research/practice.
Key ideas
(see: PO381 1.4 'LIBERAL FEMINISM')


Ester Boserup's landmark study Women's Role in Economic Development (1970) argued that development plans were 'male-biased', and that it sidelined women and their contributions to the Third World,
especially in agricultural economies.

Her book - coupled with the resurgence of liberal feminism* in Northern countries - inspired considerable scholarship on the issue of women's marginalization in development. WID advocates sought to integrate women into the development paradigm by improving their income-earning potential in the public sphere.

UN's designation of 1975 as 'International Women's Year', and the UN Decade for Women (1976-85)
gave visibility to the major preoccupations of women around the world:
◦ Improved educational & employment opportunities;

Equality in social & political participation;

Increased welfare services.

Generated new research, including analytical case-studies on the impact of development projects on

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