Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire

By Kathleen Staudt | Go to book overview

15/Mainstreaming Women in Development: Four Agency Approaches

Rounaq Jahan


Introduction

The world has witnessed a remarkable surge in the women's movement that has put forward over the last two decades a bold vision of social transformation and challenged the global community to respond. This article reviews the response of one set of key players: the international donor agencies dealing with women's development issues. It focuses on the actions of four donors, two bilateral ( Norway and Canada) and two multilateral (the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program) and attempts to assess their performance in the last twenty years in broad strokes. It asks three basic sets of questions. First, what were the articulated objectives of their special policies and measures to promote women's advancement? Were they responsive to the aspiration of the women's movement? Second, did the donors adopt any identifiable set of strategies to realize the policy objectives? Were they effective? And finally, what were the results? Was there any quantitative and qualitative evidence to suggest progress?

The two bilateral donors-- Canada and Norway--were selected because they have a reputation among donors of mounting major initiatives for women. They number among the few agencies who adopted detailed women-in-development (WID) or gender-and-development (GAD) policies. In contrast, the two multilateral donors--United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank--were chosen not on the strength of their WID/GAD mandates and policies, but because of the influence they wield in shaping the development strategies of the countries of the South. The World Bank through its conditionalities often dictates policy reforms to aid-recipient governments. The UNDP, as the largest fund, has a big pres-

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