Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire

By Kathleen Staudt | Go to book overview

decentralized agency is most likely to take place when there is strong leadership and commitment to bring about change, a gender-related policy to support that commitment, technical knowledge on the part of professional staff about how to integrate women and increase their access to resources, and an increasing number of professional women (and men) dedicated to improving women's status.

It is not clear whether or not the agency will make the necessary commitment to continue the process of gender redistribution initiated eight years ago. The potential is there, as indicated by the staff's belief that they should do better. Bureaucracies, however, tend to become smug. As long as IAFs' track record is better than many, and as long as country portfolios include some projects benefiting women, the foundation runs the risk of complacency. But an agency that prides itself on being socially progressive and committed to the "ideals of justice, respect, equity and compassion" 23 surely has a special responsibility to concern itself more seriously not only with the gender makeup of its staff but also with the low status of women in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Notes
1.
Much of the information in this chapter was gathered from interviews with twenty current and former IAF staff members. The chapter also reflects conversations with grantees over the years and the recollections of the author.
2.
The foundation has played a more active role in the Caribbean. A respected Caribbean intellectual commented that there are two strong forces for change in the region and IAF is supporting both: women and cultural identity.
3.
Statistics for 1979-1982: Ann C. Hartfiel, "In Support of Women: Ten Years of Funding by the Inter-American Foundation" (Rosslyn, Va.: Inter-American Foundation, 1982), p. 1. Between 1982 and 1986 IAF Annual Reports listed 173 grants, new and supplementary, that mentioned women as primary or direct beneficiaries. This number is somewhat misleading. The short project descriptions, or "blurbs," that appear in the Annual Reports are written by individual representatives. There is no methodological consistency to what a representative may label a women's project. Thus a women's project may be one implemented by either a male- or female-run service organization for poor women (from 1972 to 1980, 70 percent of women's projects were carried out by service organizations usually headed by a male but including female field staff); one carried out by a grassroots group; a project run by women that provides services to both sexes; a service program with women as secondary beneficiaries, such as a multifaceted community development project, or a program into which women have been integrated and receive the same services as men (in which case women may not be mentioned in the "blurb"). Projects that provide credit and technical assistance to urban microenterprises are an example of

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