Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development

Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development

Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development

Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development

Synopsis

Theoretical Perspectives on Gender and Development demystifies the theory of gender and development and shows how it plays an important role in everyday life. It explores the evolution of gender and development theory, introduces competing theoretical frameworks and examines new and emerging debates. The focus is on the implications of theory for policy and practice, and the need to theorize gender and development to create a more egalitarian society. Classroom exercises, study questions, activities, and case studies are included. It is designed for use in both formal and nonformal educational settings.

Excerpt

The development debate has advanced considerably since the United Nation’s First Development Decade in the 1960s, which emphasized economic growth and the “trickle-down” approach as key to reducing poverty. One of the notable advancements in the debate has been the move to consider gender equality as a key element of development. Women’s concerns were first integrated into the development agenda in the 1970s. Disappointment over the trickle-down approach paved the way for the adoption of the basic-needs strategy, which focused on increasing the participation in and benefits of the development process for the poor, as well as recognizing women’s needs and contributions to society. Activists articulated women’s issues in national and international forums. Following these events, the women-in-development movement endorsed the enhancement of women’s consciousness and abilities, with a view to enabling women to examine their situations and to act to correct their disadvantaged positions. The movement also affirmed that giving women greater access to resources would contribute to an equitable and efficient development process.

The end of the 1970s ushered in the concern with gender relations in development. Microlevel studies drew our attention to the differences in entitlements, perceived capabilities, and social expectations of men and women, boys and girls. Contrary to the unified-household model, the household has been considered an arena of bargaining, cooperation, or conflict. Reflecting the norms, laws, and social values of society, the differences in the status of men and women have profound implications for how they participate in market or nonmarket work and in community life as a whole. These differences embody social and power relations that constitute the setting for the implementation of development programs, and these differences therefore influence program outcomes. In the 1980s and 1990s, research demonstrated that gender relations mediate the process of development. For example, analyses of stabilization and structural-adjustment policies showed that gender inequalities have an impact on the attainment of macroeconomic objectives.

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