Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire

By Kathleen Staudt | Go to book overview

Preface to the 1997 Edition

Seven years have passed since the first edition of this book was published. Women's organizations continue to blossom, amid the heavy burdens of structural adjustment and the so-called transitions to democracy that leave little space for women and notions of democracy that expand into homes and workplaces. Yet non-governmental organizations (NGOS) continue to expand the public policy agenda, both confronting and nudging at governments, international development organizations, and the people that staff bureaucracies in those institutions.

Why have NGOs flourished and policy agendas expanded? The Fourth World Conference on Women, under United Nations auspices, is one important reason among many. Actually several United Nations-affiliated international meetings in the early 1990s established strong connections to women and gender-fair agendas, including those on the environment ( 1992), human rights ( 1993), social development ( 1995), and most importantly, population and development, held in Cairo ( 1994). Beijing, however, was a threshold. The UN Chronicle of December 1995 estimates that 50,000 people attended, one of the largest U.N. conferences ever. Among attendees, one could count government representatives, NGO members, and ordinary people. And despite impressions left among those limited to the U.S. media, far more action occurred than Hillary Clinton's speech on human rights abuses in China.

Beijing elevated and deepened the global women's agenda, mobilizing organizations and bureaucratic institutions to prepare for and, subsequently, to act at levels heretofore unknown. The updated and expanded edition of this book acknowledges and celebrates this new reality with its contributions.

The contributions in this volume offer continuing, timely, and classic analyses and insights about transformative gender struggles both inside and outside bureaucracies. Institutions and those who staff or lead them have changed, altering the context somewhat. Let us consider just a few of the

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