Struggling with Development: The Politics of Hunger and Gender in the Philippines

Struggling with Development: The Politics of Hunger and Gender in the Philippines

Struggling with Development: The Politics of Hunger and Gender in the Philippines

Struggling with Development: The Politics of Hunger and Gender in the Philippines

Synopsis

Struggling with Development is a study of the complex relationships among international development, hunger, & gender in the context of political violence in the Philippines. This ethnography demonstrates that gender-specific international development, which has among its main goals the alleviation of hunger in women & children & the raising of women's social position, has instead perpetuated the problems of hunger & gender inequality in societies. Lynn Kwiatkowski questions the international "women in development" thrust of some feminist & development scholarship & organizations, arguing for a critical reevaluation of the hegemonic Western international development project.

Excerpt

Malnutrition and unequal access to food remain as severe problems in most non-industrialized countries, despite development intervention in these countries for almost a century. In this book, I will analyze the problem of malnutrition primarily in relation to gender and development ideology and practices in upland Ifugao communities, located on Northern Luzon island of the Philippines. My aim, based upon research conducted primarily in the early 1990s, is to show how western derived and oriented biomedical and international development programs, as historically specific cultural forces, have not substantially alleviated malnutrition in the Philippines. Instead, the programs have more often ignored and perpetuated or extended social structures of inequality (particularly socioeconomic, gender, and ethnic inequality) that are the fundamental causes of malnutrition. While structures of inequality operated on the local level within Ifugao, each was influenced by those operating at national and international levels (such as social class, international economic relationships, etc.).

Gender inequality was not ignored in Ifugao, but rather focused on by some development organizations through their programs during the early 1990s. Some of the development programs resulted in adverse effects for women, even when they expressly tried to improve women's position in society. Simultaneous attempts by Philippine national biomedical and international development programs to raise women's social status and to alleviate malnutrition in Ifugao had not been highly successful since they largely ignored the social relations of power influencing these problems. I will explore these propositions by analyzing biomedical and international development discourse and practices in Ifugao society in relation to gender, political violence, religion, and women's experience of malnutrition within their families and communities. I argue against the recent drive for the inclusion of women in international development programs, in light of their ineffectiveness and, in some cases, adverse effects on peoples they intended to benefit.

To understand the complexity of the social relations that influence malnutrition, I assess how diverse unequal power relations--including gender, economic, religious, government, biomedical, political, and international (i.e., colonial, neocolonial, and development)--interrelated, supported, or contradicted each other . . .

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