Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire

By Kathleen Staudt | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Departing from Huairou clutching somewhat battered gender concepts and wondering how to reclaim their feminist content without alienating potential allies, particularly among Southern researchers and activists, where does this leave us?

As Northern feminist researchers in gender and development, one role we can play is to track the redefinition of concepts as discourses become institutionalized and to help identify opportunities for advancing feminist ideas within this process, being aware that we are often complicit in it. An example is the current debate in donor circles about good governance and participation, which provides considerable scope for questioning the nature of participation, and indeed politics, from a feminist perspective and, concretely, the opportunity to push for greater accountability of donor agencies and wider institutions to women and their organizations.

It is also important that we engage in dialogue with colleagues who work on gender issues from outside a feminist perspective, to attempt to broaden the scope of their studies and to see how their findings can inform our own work and campaigns. Training workshops in feminist research methods might be one vehicle for such a dialogue. We also need to ensure that the pioneering contribution of feminist theorists and researchers are recognized as gender and development work moves into the mainstream, and thus to convince funding agencies of the value of supporting non-quantitative, innovative, and challenging research.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to look at whether and how GAD research serves those attempting to promote women's interests either in grassroots development work or by influencing policy. Some might claim that as academics it is not our business to determine how our research is used, but this view is increasingly redundant in a world where much research is commissioned precisely to inform policy. At the very least, we need to maintain an open dialogue with feminist researchers and activists in the South, to listen to their critiques of current gender and development thinking, policy, and practice, including our own, and to take on board their perspectives and priorities.


Notes
1.
K. Young et al., Of Marriage and the Market: Women's Subordination in International Perspective ( London: CSE Books, 1981); S. Razavi and C. Miller, "Gender Mainstreaming: A Study of Efforts by the UNDP, the World Bank and the ILO to Institutionalise Gender Issues," UNRISD Occasional Paper for the FourthWorld Conference on Women

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