Resources and reflections on gender and thinking and working politically

12th June 2015

Next week's meeting of the Thinking and Working Politically Community of Practice will focus on gender at an opportune time. It follows a spate of interesting papers, blog posts and talks about the relationship between 'thinking and working politically' and gender issues. 

These have set us thinking that  rather than keeping the tools of power analysis and politics trained on other people, other organisations, other outcomes, as is usually the case  we need a shift of focus. We need to look in the mirror before we go much further.

Evie Browne’s GSDRC report for DFID on Gender in Political Economy Analysis set the scene by exploring how gender is incorporated into PEA – or mostly isn’t – and which tools are used to do this.

ODI’s recent report ‘Support to women and girls’ leadership: A rapid review of the evidence’, by Tam O’Neil & Georgia Plank, with Pilar Domingo, and two DLP concept briefs, Gender and Power by Diana Koester and Gender, Sexuality and Inequality by Gillian Fletcher, take the discussion forward.  

These papers provide a useful summary of:

  • why a better understanding of gender, sexuality and power relations by donors is needed if development is to be ‘politically smart’, and why addressing gender equality is inherently political;
  • what  and who a politically-informed approach to supporting gender equality  would need to involve, by working with a wider set of actors and through informal processes and spaces;
  • how donors might need to think about these issues – by addressing gender equality as an ongoing long-term institutional process, not just the ad hoc building of individual skills, and by examining their own gendered organisations.
  • and what further research is needed.

Duncan Green has also recently commented on the ODI paper and one of the DLP papers, and on Oxfam’s own work on women’s leadership and the IDS Pathways research, drawing out some of the ‘success factors’ that lie behind effective women’s leadership. 

A number of useful papers and blogs on gender and political settlements and gender and political inclusion have come from the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre. ESID has also produced Researching the politics of gender, which emphasises the importance of historical analysis of women’s political role during critical moments of state formation, and their role in informal as well as formal institutions and spaces. Through four case studies, it illustrates the value in exploiting ‘the convergence between the political settlements framework and recent advances in the feminist literature on women in politics’ and provides an analytical framework to do so. The authors suggest that this can both strengthen work on political settlements and benefit feminist analysis.

Raewyn Connell’s  great talk at LSE on ‘decolonising gender’ is not linked specifically to development. However, it reminds us of the dangers of locating gender debates too centrally in a global political economy of knowledge production which is largely shaped by the power and wealth of the global North.  She suggests we need to call on a ‘richer history of gender struggle’ than that represented in the ‘northern-centred economy of knowledge’. We should draw more on the global historical archive of feminist activism, research and thinking around the world. For instance:

At the end of her talk, Raewyn notes that feminist scholarship always needs to be linked to practice, struggle and activism, but wonders if there is a need to think and work politically more in global arenas. She argues that this may be necessary because gender relations are increasingly formed in international spaces - through transnational corporations, for instance. She wonders if we could learn from the Latin American feminist encuentros in working out how to bring activists, social movements, femocrats and researchers together to address the institutionalised masculinity that pervades most transnational spaces.

Finally, the most visible manifestation of power and politics is money and funding. As Lydia Alpízar Durán has recently noted on the AWID website, there is growing evidence that ‘women’s movements have been the key drivers defending women’s human rights and gender justice worldwide’. Yet the median budget for a 740-strong sample of women’s organizations around the world looked at by AWID was just US$20,000. Durán suggests that at the upcoming 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, ‘it is critical to remember that real systemic impact for women’s rights needs significant resources’

To us, this all suggests the need to use the tools of power analysis and politics to examine ourselves. It suggests that this will need to be a key part of the agenda at next week's Bangkok meeting.

0 Comments

Leave a comment

The views expressed in Opinions posts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of DLP, the Australian Government or DLP's partner organisations.

Documents

Author

Chris Roche

Chris Roche

Chris is Associate Professor and Chair in International Development at La Trobe University in Melbourne, where he is also Director of the Institute for Human Security and Social Change. He is DLP's Senior Research Partner, and he has over 25 years’ experience working for international NGOs as a project manager, evaluator, policy researcher and director.

Read more

Author

Tait Brimacombe

Tait Brimacombe

Tait is in the final stages of completing her PhD, which explores the intersection of communication for development and gender in the Pacific, with fieldwork conducted in Vanuatu, Fiji and the Cook Islands. She has also contributed to research for AusAID (now DFAT) and the Australian Civil Military Centre on communication for development in fragile states, and the role of communication in complex emergencies. Her current research interests include women’s leadership, coalitions and collective action in the Pacific. Tait is based at the Institute for Human Security and Social Change, La Trobe University.

Read more

Author

Gillian Fletcher

Gillian Fletcher

Gillian is a DLP Research Fellow with more than 15 years’ experience of working in, researching, and evaluating international development. Her PhD examined the gaps between rhetoric and practice in HIV prevention in Myanmar. Methodologically, Gillian has a strong commitment to participatory action research and reflective learning. She is based at La Trobe University's Institute for Human Security and Social Change. 

Read more

Related items

Politics, risk and development: three takeaways

Reflections from two conferences

Opinion by Chris Roche19th February 2016

Innovation: transactional or transformative?

Given the fascination with 'innovation' in the field of development, it's time to discuss what the word might mean.

Opinion by Chris Roche23rd March 2015

Inequality – the politics behind the policies

Discussion starter for the #polinequality conference

Opinion by David Hudson11th February 2015

Parliamentary strengthening: the IDC report

Having presented evidence to the UK's International Development Committee, what of the final report?

Opinion by Tam O'Neil9th February 2015

Cancer and the links between medicine and development

Guest post for From Poverty to Power

Opinion by Chris Roche15th April 2015

Do donors have realistic expectations of their staff when it comes to 'thinking and working politically'?

Is learning to ‘think politically’ like learning a new language? 

Opinion by Heather Marquette9th June 2014

Welcome to DLP's blog

Welcome to DLP's new blog on politics, power, policy and developmental leadership

Opinion by Heather Marquette10th December 2013
Opinion by Heather Marquette10th November 2014

Pacific power: new femininities and women's leadership in the Pacific

The educated, internationally connected women who are changing the way 'development' is done

Opinion by Ceridwen Spark24th June 2014

Taking the Results agenda to the next level?

On new book The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development

Opinion by Chris Roche15th July 2015

Political analysis as the practical art of the possible

Bringing politics back into PEA - a new paper with Adrian Leftwich

Opinion by David Hudson24th July 2014
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal29th March 2016
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal24th November 2014

Developmental leaders, 'dirty hands', and the dark side of collaboration

The ambiguities of supporting 'developmental leadership'

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi11th December 2013

Gender - the power relationship that Political Economy Analysis forgot?

Why more questions about gender relations could help

Opinion by Evie Browne13th February 2014

Fiji's Roshika Deo - outlier, positive deviant or simply feisty feminist?

First in a series on 'Power, politics and positive deviance', theme of DLP's 2016 annual conference.

Opinion by Priya Chattier 1st February 2016

Gender analysis, and thinking and working politically – bridging the gap

Guest post on Devpolicy  introducing panels at this week's Australasian Aid Conference

Opinion by Chris Roche14th February 2017

Security and justice – the mismatch between policy and practice

What hinders more politically nuanced security and justice programming?

Opinion by Shivit Bakrania21st July 2014

What's in a name? Leadership as more than the 'big men' and 'big women' of history

Looking beyond 'The Leader' for a deeper understanding of how change happens

Opinion by Heather Lyne de Ver11th February 2014

What do we do on Monday? Political settlements in theory and practice

The value of the political settlements framework

Opinion by Edward Laws15th July 2015

International donors - aiding or abetting?

The 'donor's dilemma' is discussed in a new DLP paper.

Opinion by Niheer Dasandi10th September 2015

Identifying rebels with a cause (and effect)

'Power, politics and positive deviance' is the theme of DLP's 2016 annual conference.

Opinion by Chris Roche1st December 2015

#Feminism: Digital technologies and feminist activism in Fiji

Guest post on Devpolicy on DLP work with research partners at University of the South Pacific

Opinion by Tait Brimacombe14th March 2017
Opinion by Alina Rocha Menocal15th October 2015

Two remarkable transitions: lessons from Oman and Somaliland

Political settlements and international power structures

Opinion by Sarah Phillips20th July 2015

Medellin - more than a miracle

From the most murderous city on earth to 'a new global standard for urban policy': the politics of change in the wake of crisis

Opinion by Cheryl Stonehouse4th March 2014

The politics of redistribution: we need you

Which are the key country cases? Help us shape new research.

Opinion by David Hudson16th October 2014

Climate change and adaptation in the Pacific Islands: watering down women's security?

How women leaders are challenging a narrow adaptation agenda.

Opinion by Nicole George7th March 2014

Adding gender and power to the TWP agenda

Why bring gender into Thinking and Working Politically?

Opinion by Sally Moyle6th August 2015
Opinion by Dan Hymowitz3rd February 2017