Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, PhD, is a social anthropologist specialised in social development with a focus on gender and development. She has 30 years of experience in gender and development research, advisory work, teaching and training.
DepartmentSustainable Economic Development & Gender TitleAssociate Phone+31 (0)20 568 8271 E-mailM.Mukhopadhyay@kit.nl
In 1995, Novib and a number of its partners initiated a courageous and risky journey; they undertook a collective learning and organisational change process to promote gender equality within their organisations. The programme was called the Gender Focus Programme. The Politics of the Possible is the story of the journey undertaken by seven NGO partners of Novib in South Asia and the Middle East. Today, a decade after the Beijing conference in 1995, it is hard to imagine that the process of gender mainstreaming and organisational change was uncharted territory when the GFP began. Thus the seven participating organisations, whose endeavours are the focus of this book, had to find their way using no more than an organisational development tool adapted for the programme.
Decentralisation, in its simplest definition, is a form of governance that transfers authority and responsibility from central to intermediate and local governments (ODI 2002). In much of the development literature decentralisation of government has been treated as a technical exercise involving administrative and institutional reform to improve performance and planning and to make allocative decisions efficient and transparent. The idea of decentralisation is linked to subsidiarity which means that what can be done efficiently and effectively at the lowest level of government should be done at that level and not at higher levels (Issac 2000). Economists justify decentralisation on the grounds of allocative efficiency, enhanced policy responsiveness and effectiveness especially of poverty reduction programmes. The assumption is that because decisions are being taken in a local constituency citizens will have more control over decisions taken and it will reflect their preferences.
This article is about taking stock of experiences of mainstreaming gender. It addresses two related concerns. First, that after three decades of feminist activism in the field of development – both at the level of theory and practice – most development institutions have still to be constantly reminded of the need for gender analysis in their work, policymakers have to be lobbied to “include” the “g” word and even our own colleagues need convincing that integrating a gender analysis makes a qualitative difference. Second, by constantly critiquing their own strategies, feminist advocates have changed their approaches, but institutional change continues to be elusive (except in a few corners).
The conference ‘Governing for Equity’ was the outcome of a process in which many individuals and institutions have been involved over a period of three years beginning in 1999. In that year KIT Gender, at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, initiated a three-year programme entitled ‘Gender, Citizenship and Governance’.
Mainstreaming a gender perspective in development was the overall strategy adopted at the Fourth UN Conference for Women, held in Beijing in 1995, to support the goal of gender equality. The rationale for this strategy is that it is important to bring the goal of gender equality to the centre of the development process. After three decades of gender and development activism, most in development institutions continue to need constant reminders of the need for gender analysis in their work. Why is it that policy makers still have to be lobbied to include the g word, and colleagues need to be convinced that integrating a gender analysis in their work makes a qualitative difference?
Mainstreaming gender or Reconstituting the mainstream? Gender knowledge in development. Online version (2013)
Mobilising for Women’s Rights and the role of resources with Rosalind Eyben (2011)
Gender and Rights: A Resource Guide with C.Hunter & K. Milward. On-line publication
http://www.genderandrights.dk/ (2010) Gender, Rights and Development: A Global source Book with Shamim Meer (2008)
Gender Justice, Citizenship and Development: An Introduction with Navsharan Singh (2007)
Revisiting Gender Training: A global source book with Franz Wong (2006)
‘Creating citizens who demand just governance: gender and development in the twenty-first century’ (2004)
‘Introduction Gender, Citizenship and Governance’: A global source book. (2004) ‘Introduction: Women and property, women as property’ (2000)
‘Brother, There are Only Two Jatis – Men and Women’ (1999)
Legally Dispossessed: Gender, Identity and the process of law(1998)