Gender and Power

This Concept Brief discusses the links between gender and power. It is designed for those who are new to these ideas and it addresses three main questions: What is power and how can a gender perspective help us understand it? What is gender and how can a power perspective help us understand it? What policy and operational messages follow from a focus on gender and power?

'Gender' is one of the most persistent causes, consequences and manifestations of power relations. Understanding gender can therefore significantly enhance our understanding of power and vice versa.

Yet donors have largely neglected 'gender' in their efforts to understand power relations in partner countries. In particular they are often blind to how power and politics in the 'private' sphere shape power relations at all levels of society; how gender hierarchies mark wider economic, political and social structures and institutions; and the opportunities for peace and prosperity emanating from feminized sources of power. By addressing these blind spots, a focus on gender can significantly enhance donors' insights into power dynamics and their ability to 'think and work politically' overall.

At the same time, focusing on power can improve donor support to gender equality by pointing to the need for more politically-informed approaches. This would involve, among other things, developing a deeper understanding of the local context, engaging a wider range of powerful actors, providing better support for women's mobilization and taking a closer look at gendered power relations within donor organizations themselves.

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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News

New article: A typology of interaction between politicians and bureaucrats

Tuesday 14th March 2017

DLP Research Fellow Niheer Dasandi has co-authored a new article on how bureaucrats and politicians interact, and how this affects reform efforts. It appears in 'Public Administration and Development'.

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Power and systems, and their role in developmental change: Guest seminar with Duncan Green

Tuesday 21st February 2017

Seeing power and complex social systems clearly is the first step towards supporting positive developmental change, says Oxfam Strategic Director and DLP research partner Duncan Green. He discussed the themes of his latest book at a recent International Development Department guest seminar at the University of Birmingham.

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