Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire

By Kathleen Staudt | Go to book overview

and there is no real commitment to increase women's status through projects." 29

It is important to note that there are cases where WID is beginning to be considered seriously in the World Bank. Such cases are most likely to occur if various actors in a position to influence bank policy simultaneously demonstrate sensitivity to WID. Thus, external actors have influenced the bank's responses to WID issues. However, the bank itself has not employed its considerable resources and influence to initiate discussion on WID issues with other donors or with borrower governments. In short, any systematic consideration is still to come, and its lack can best be explained, first, by the nature of the professional and technical expertise and the fit of WID issues into this expertise, and, second, by the constraints posed by organizational structure and procedures.

The conceptual acceptance of WID issues is necessary; without it, bureaucratic strategies have little chance. Previous studies on the organizational response to WID support this conclusion. Staudt30 and Rogers, 31 examining WID implementation in the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nation' specialized agencies, respectively, both reach the conclusion that the conventional gender ideologies of staff members and their lack of acceptance of WID as a legitimate professional concern have been the reason for the bureaucratic resistance encountered. On the other hand, the relative success of the Ford Foundation can possibly be explained by its goal of finding innovative solutions to social problems. 32

This is certainly not to say that bureaucratic strategies to change organizations are unnecessary or irrelevant. In fact, the bank's current allocation of resources to WID is largely the result of an internal strategy that aims to make WID more acceptable to the professional and technical experts on the staff, particularly through women's link with population, health, and nutrition, while at the same time attempting to convince the management of the importance of WID. However, it is important to keep in mind that bureaucratic strategies are ultimately circumscribed by the nature of an agency's professional and technical expertise. In the World Bank's case, the nature of this expertise, with its emphasis on the economic success of projects, has defined the ways in which women may be considered. 33


Notes
1.
I have adopted James Q. Wilson's definition of change in Approaches to Organizational Design, ed. J. Thompson ( Pittsburgh, Penn.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1966).
2.
With the restructuring of the World Bank in 1987, a Division of Women in Development has been set up in the new Population and Human Resources Department.

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