Over the last two decades there has been a proliferation of interest in, and information on, gender and development. This was both a cause and a consequence of the establishment of the United Nations Decade for Women between 1975 and 1985. This decade saw little direct change in the subordination of women but it did help to promote greater awareness of the situation and the need for more information.
Even today, information on gender differences in the development process is patchy. Women are overlooked because they are ‘economically inactive’ in a formal sense. Their work is confined to the home, or to subsistence food production, or else they are involved in informal sector work, part-time work (often at home) or comprise unpaid family workers. None of these activities is exclusively female, so that under-recording affects the appreciation of male as well as female roles in the economy, but women tend in many developing countries (not all) to be more represented than men in those sectors of the economy about which we lack information.
The upsurge in interest in gender roles within capitalist development is not simply a consequence of the growth in feminism in developed economies. Women engaged in research within their own developing countries tend to display varied views on this question. Some see feminism as irrelevant and do not wish to separate gender issues from the broader aspects of underdevelopment with which they are