GAD and Gender Mainstreaming: A Pathway to Sustainable Development?

Brenner, Alletta

In recent years there has been increased attention to the importance of gender in securing long-term development goals. Consensus has now been reached that increasing the social status and economic capacity of women is an effective way of improving outcomes. The subject of this paper is the viability of the ‘Gender and Development’ (GAD) paradigm as a means of establishing socially and politically sustainable gains for women in developing countries. The author examines the GAD paradigm using the case study of ‘Gender Mainstreaming’ in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan since 2001. Through an analysis of some of the problems encountered so far, the author questions whether such an approach is likely to actually result in long-term, sustainable improvement in that country. Three key issues include: marginalization of ‘Gender Mainstreaming’; lack of state capacity; and failures to fully integrate programs into social and cultural contexts. Though reconstruction efforts have clearly resulted in some improvement, it is argued that it is unclear whether such an approach will lead to long-term progress. Rather, there is strong evidence that GAD can actually contribute to the further politicization of gender and result in a backlash against reforms. Ultimately, the goals that the GAD paradigm attempts to achieve are extremely difficult to translate into effective practice, especially in highly volatile and politicized situations. In conclusion, the author finds that sustainable and transformative change may be elusive if one simply applies new aims to old models of aid provision.

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Also Published In

Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

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Academic Units
Earth Institute
Published Here
November 25, 2015