Participation of Women in Development

Participation of Women in Development


 A. Women in Development

  1.  Women in Development was Introduced in early 1970s by Washington-based network of female development professionals.
  2. Originated as a result of three major feminist waves
    1. women’s suffrage movement – NA in late 19th century – equal right in votes and politics
    2. social and cultural inequalities women were faced with in everyday affair i.e. sexual violence, reproductive rights, sexual discrimination and glass ceilings. UN organized the first global conference on women back in 1975 at Mexico. United Nations Decade for Women (1976-1985)
  • Ester Boserup publication on “Women’s Role in Economic Development”. The book sent a shock wave through northern development agencies and humanitarian organization.
    1. The book talks about how increasingly specialized division of labor associated with development undermines or neglects the value of women’s work and status especially in the developing world.
  1. Basis of WID
    1. Traditional view was that women’s role as that of mothers and wives – so development approach was limited to social welfare – nutrition etc
    2. Policies and national plans often overlook needs and priorities of women. Their goes unnoticed or undervalued – informal, home
  • Historical as well as cultural factors limit women’s access to resources, means of development. E.g education
  1. WID placed emphasis on egalitarianism and on the development of strategies and action programs aimed at minimizing the disadvantages of women in the development process.
  2. WID perspective was closely linked with the modernization paradigm – which was the then prevailing view that development would trickle down to all. WID challenged the “trickle down” theories of development and said that modernization was impacting differently on men and women. Instead of improving women’s rights and status, the development process appeared to be contributing to a deterioration of their position.
  3. Major points about WID
    1. Liberal feminist (equal rights, employment, equity and citizenship for women) + Modernization = WID
      1. Central to liberal feminism was the idea that women’s disadvantages stem from stereotyped customary expectations held by men and internalized by women, and promoted through various “agencies of socialization”.
    2. Offshoot of traditional modernization theory
      1. WID was grounded in traditional modernization theory. It said women had fared less well from development efforts of the 1960s therefore a new strategy was called for.
      2. Most of the interventions suggested to correct the imbalance development were technological
        1. transfer of technology
        2. provision of extension services and credit facilities
        3. development of appropriate technologies which would lighten women’s workloads
  • WID accepted existing social structures
    1. Did not examine why women had fared poor inspite of development strategies but only focussed on how their position could be improved. This was because WID was rooted in modernization theory, and hence more radical or critical perspectives such as dependency theory or Marxist were not analysed.
  1. WID approach tended to focus exclusively on the productive aspects of women’s work, ignoring or minimizing the reproductive side of women’s lives.
  2. WID is based on the assumption that gender relations will change of themselves as women become full economic partners in development.
    1. This fails to accept the reality that when women’s income-generating capabilities improve they often are appropriated by men.
  3. Moser’s five-fold schema: welfare, equity, anti-poverty, efficiency and empowerment
    1. Equity – between men and women in development
    2. Anti-poverty – Women’s economic status, access to resources etc makes her poorer than men
  • Efficiency – development is efficient and effective by using the contribution of women
  1. Empowerment – Since subordination of women by men, so advocates fighting it.
  1. WID was the first contemporary movement to try and integrate women in the development agenda. It was followed by movements – Women and Development (WAD) >> Gender and Development (GAD).
  2. Weakness of WID – see point (f) above
    1. Assumes that all men are the beneficiary of development processes
    2. Focussed mainly on employment opportunities for women in development agenda
  • Unintended consequences of women being depicted as someone whose claims are conditional on their productive value.
  1. Equated increased female status with the value of cash income in women’s lives

B. Women and Development (WAD)

  1. Emerged during the second half of the 1970s as an alternative to WID
  2. It discusses women’s issues from a neo-Marxist and dependency theory perspective.
  3. Unlike WID, WAD approach said that women was always part of development processes and the idea of “integrating women into development” was closely linked to the maintenance of economic dependency of Third World and especially African countries on the industrialized countries.
  4. WAD focuses on the relationship between women and process of capitalist development rather than only on strategies for the integration of women into development.
    1. WAD maintained that women always have been “integrated” into their societies and that the work they do – both inside and outside home, is central to the maintenance of those societies.
    2. However, this integration serves primarily to sustain existing international structures of inequality.
  5. WAD offers a more critical view of women’s position than does WID but it fails to undertake a full-scale analysis of the relationship between patriarchy, differing modes of production and women’s subordination and oppression.
  6. The WAD perspective implicitly assumes that women’s position will improve if and when international structures become more equitable. In the meantime the under –representation of women in economic, political and social structures can be solved by carefully designed intervention strategies.
  7. Weakness
    1. There is an inherent tension within the WAD perspective – which discourages a strict analytical focus on the problems of women independent of those of men since both sexes are seen to be disadvantaged within oppressive global structures based on class and capital. Since no focus on ideology of patriarchy therefore discussion limited to international and class inequalities.
    2. singular preoccupation with the productive sector at the expense of the reproductive side of women’s work and lives. Therefore have tended to concentrate on the development of income-generating activities without taking into account the time burdens that such strategies place on women. Tasks performed by women in the household, including those of social reproduction have been ignored as “private” domain and outside the purview of development projects.
  8. The tendency of both modernization and dependency theorists has been to utilize exclusively economic or political economy analyses and to discount the insights of the so-called “softer” social sciences.

C. Gender and Development (GAD)

  1. Originated in 1980s by socialist feminism and takes a holistic approach of looking at the totality of social, economic and political life in order to understand the shaping of particular aspects of society.
  2. It origin relates back to the Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) network, when it was first initiated in India.
  3. GAD is not concerned with women per se but with the social construction of gender and the assignment of specific roles, responsibilities and expectations to women and men.
  4. GAD rejects the public/private dichotomy which commonly has been used as a mechanism to undervalue family and household maintenance work performed by women.
    1. GAD enters the private sphere and gives special attention to the oppression of women in the family.
  5. GAD also puts greater emphasis on the participation of the state in promoting women’s emancipation.
  6. The GAD approach sees women as, agents of change rattier than as passive recipients of development and it stresses the need for women to organize themselves for more effective political voice.
  7. GAD also focuses on women’s legal rights, including the reform of inheritance and land laws.
  8. GAD goes further than WAD
    1. not only to the design of intervention and affirmative action strategies which will ensure women are better integrated into the development process


  1. also focuses on re-examination of social structures and institutions which leads to gender inequalities.
    1. It is difficult to find examples of development projects which have been designed from a GAD perspective. Read below
    2. Problems of women in third world countries
    1. General commentary
      1. Despite gender mainstreaming efforts
        1. Women make up the 70% of individuals living in poverty
        2. in sub-Saharan Africa 57% of HIV infected individuals are women.
    • disproportionate ratio of women to men in the job market and at leadership position
    1. low level of education among women
    2. low socio-economic status among women.

D. Women, Environment and Sustainable Development (WED)

  1. Originated from grassroots women experiences in third world countries.
    1. Chipko, Narmada
  2. Also associated with women who worked for peace.
  3. Associated with Eco-feminism.
  4. Women’s relationship with environment and how degradation of environment impact women’s lives.
    1. Air pollution
    2. Water scarcity > carry water from far, security issues
  5. Sustainable development
    1. Harmony with nature
    2. People centric
    • Women centered
    1. Cater to needs of majority
    2. Decentralisation of decision making
    3. Democracy must be entrenched
    • Peace, non-violence and respect for life

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