What makes many development challenges complex are the power relations and politics involved. In all contexts and at all levels, these power relationships are gendered. They affect women and men differently – often unequally.

The importance of development programs taking a politically informed approach to complex development challenges has become increasingly accepted in recent years. In this approach, a program analyses where power and influence lies to decide what it can feasibly achieve: what to work on, who with and how. For a long time, development programs have also been encouraged to be ‘gender aware’. 
Both approaches aim to understand and reform unequal power dynamics to achieve change. But they have tended to operate separately – to the detriment of each. 
Practice is outstripping analysis in bringing gender awareness and politically informed approaches together. The 17 case studies of this research project explore learning from social change processes and programs in diverse countries and sectors. 
The gendered politics iceberg






















Some parts of the political context are easier to see than others. Formal manifestations of politics and power are the tip of a vast iceberg. Below the waterline are less visible, informal power structures and relationships. All of this political iceberg is gendered. Read more in the GAPP briefing note.

(For a similar metaphor, see Figure 3.1 in Andrews, M. (2013.) The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)

About DLP

The Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) is an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development.

DLP focuses on the crucial role of home-grown leaderships and coalitions in forging legitimate political settlements and institutions that promote developmental outcomes, such as sustainable growth, political stability and inclusive social development.

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Two exciting job vacancies in the DLP team

Monday 12th November 2018

DLP is looking for a Program Manager and a Communications Manager to help lead a new three-year phase of research on leadership in global development.

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New article on how unfair service provision affects state legitimacy

Thursday 26th July 2018

Claire Mcloughlin's new open-access article in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding draws on the case of higher education in Sri Lanka. It explores how unfair service provision can undermine state legitimacy in divided societies.

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