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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New studies on leadership for transformational change in Africa

Thursday 31st May 2018

A new series of studies asks what factors support or hinder leadership for transformational change in Africa. They are published in collaboration with the UONGOZI Institute.

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New article on politically informed work for climate change mitigation in China and India

Monday 21st May 2018

In Development Policy Review, Tom Harrison and Genia Kostka draw on their DLP research project to explore 'Bureaucratic manoeuvres and the local politics of climate change mitigation in China and India'.

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