Gender in development has been an issue for development agencies – NGO, bilateral and multilateral – since the mid-1970s and the Mexico Women’s Conference when the first women and development (WID) approaches were agreed, with the intention of addressing women’s absence from development discourse, planning, and decision making. Since then, and particularly following the Fourth UN World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995, thinking about how best to further gender equality has evolved from an exclusive focus on women participating in and benefiting from development projects towards addressing gender inequality. In particular, the focus moved towards transforming unequal power relations between men and women (and the implications of this including female poverty and disempowerment), and the promotion of women’s human rights more broadly, in and through development interventions. Gender and Development (GAD) frameworks recognise that enabling women to participate in and benefit from development requires a focus on women and their status and rights. This must sit alongside strategies that engage men and women in working together towards mutual goals and greater equality, and address the wider social, economic, cultural and political factors that perpetuate women’s inequality. Most bilateral, multilateral, and non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) have developed clear, strong gender policies which address inequalities in access to development resources between men and women as an important part of their development activities, with gender mainstreaming the primary tool for integrating gender considerations.
Dr Patrick Kilby coordinates and lectures in a Masters Degree Program in participatory development at the Australian National University (ANU). He is also a member of the Oxfam Australia Board.
Joanne Crawford is Policy and Research Advisor at International Women’s Development Agency and Research Associate at the Australian National University on a three-year international collaboration to develop a new gender-sensitive poverty measure.
This working paper is funded through the ACFID-Universities Linkage Network, co-chaired by the Australian Council for International Development and the Institute for Human Security at La Trobe University.