Gender and Development: The Challenge of Mainstream

Nilsson, Patricia

Mainstream institutions have only begun to address issues in Gender and Development since the 1970s, and it is time to evaluate how sustainable the progress in this field has been. In this essay, I briefly discuss three specific challenges facing gender advocates. First, I discuss the risks gender advocates take and the opportunities they miss when treating women as a homogenous group. Second, I evaluate the difficulty of balancing transformative policy and integrationist policy. The former seeks to change entire systems but risks being seen as too radical to be adopted by international influential institutions. The latter allows gender awareness to become adapted by these same institutions (i.e. gender mainstreaming) but risks not truly bringing the transformation needed. In the final part of my essay, I argue the importance of halting the “Sanctity of Culture,” a phrase coined by feminist economist, Naila Kabeer (1999). I further this analysis by looking at an Indian case in which an increased ratio of women is gaining education but see little increase in other factors of equality.

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Also Published In

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

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Academic Units
Earth Institute
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December 7, 2015