Launch of synthesis report and Gender and Politics in Practice series

DLP launched its 10-year synthesis report and findings from a collaborative research project on ‘Gender and Politics in Practice’ at the Australasian Aid Conference in February 2018.

Inside the Black Box of Political Will sets out findings from a decade of DLP research. It discusses ‘developmental leadership’ as a strategic, collective and political process of building political will to make positive change happen. It explains that leadership for development takes place at three levels:

  1. At the individual level, it involves motivated people with the incentives, values, interests and opportunity to push for change.
  2. At the collective level, these motivated people overcome barriers to cooperation and form coalitions with sufficient power, legitimacy and influence. 
  3. At the societal level, coalitions contest and de-legitimise one set of ideas and legitimise an alternative set.

Through this process of contestation, leaders and coalitions challenge, subvert and reformulate society’s rules in ways that are seen as locally legitimate and sustainable. The process of developmental leadership can be carefully supported from outside if agencies work in politically informed ways, such as by facilitating effective coalitions and navigating the politics of legitimacy.

The main report is accompanied by an 8-page brief: Developmental Leadership: What it is, why it matters, and how it can be supported.

The Gender and Politics in Practice (GAPP) research project asked how a gendered understanding of power and politics can make development work more effective. Many development programs tend to look at gender issues and politics separately. Through a series of case studies, this research asked what we can learn from more integrated approaches.

briefing note highlights five key lessons that emerge from the research: 

  1. Support inclusive local leadership...
  2. ... to bring political and gender analysis together - and use it
  3. ... to drive politically informed, gender aware action for change
  4. ... to plan for uncertainty and learn through adaptation
  5. Shape management systems to support these ways of working.

The note suggests practical questions to consider in each of these areas. For a more detailed discussion of the five lessons, see: From Silos to Synergy: Learning from Politically Informed, Gender Aware Programs, which synthesises findings from 14 case studies.

Other GAPP resources include:

  1. a literature review
  2. a context paper that explores how GAPP findings on development programming relate to broader processes of social, political and economic change
  3. three in-depth studies that examine how gender and politics came together in social change processes:

See presentations from the Australasian Aid Conference on the synthesis and on GAPP findings.

Image: Australasian Aid Conference 2018, Panel 1a – Launch of Inside the black box of political will (Alexandra Orme/DevPolicy) 

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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.

Find out more

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