Bringing feminism back into development practice [Gender, Policy and Development Study Group]

Tina Wallace (Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford)
Fenella Porter (Ruskin College)
Lecture Room B (Queens College)
Start time:
14 September, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Long abstract:

This panel proposes a feminist approach be reintroduced into areas where it's been neglected in recent years. Across the sector there is concern that much gender and development work is siloed, carried out often within NGOs competing with each other for funding, and where the funding T&Cs are determined more by current development paradigms and processes than by the needs and rights of women. The focus is mostly on technical approaches and predetermined ways of setting targets, assessing results in simple metrics, and measuring success. This undermines the judgment and commitment of staff and focuses on what can be measured, rather than tackling what needs to change. This has muted the voice for solidarity with wider women’s movements, for supporting a collective commitment to really challenging the balance of power, and challenging institutions that recreate unequal power relations. Evidence shows the importance of taking more collective approaches to challenging power, often rooted in patriarchal structures, and working to change the position of poor women, moving beyond working with individual women - the current focus of much development work. This requires revisiting the ways work is undertaken to promote gender equality and women’s rights, challenging elements of the current dominant paradigm, and seeking out supportive forms of funding. The panel draws on current work in NGOs to explore what current practice looks like and highlight the differences between a gender mainstreaming, instrumental approaches to gender equality, and a feminist approach based on core feminist principles. It is designed for practitioners, as well as researchers and academics.