In May 2018, Gender & Development and the Women and Development Study Group of the UK Development Studies Association (DSA) co-hosted a seminar of the same title, to celebrate the journal’s 25th birthday. This issue includes articles initially presented there, alongside a range of others, commissioned in line with our usual practice from an open Call for Contributions.
To ensure international development supports women’s rights and gender equality, it is essential that feminist values infuse and underpin every aspect of research. Feminist values in research may be understood in a variety of ways. The overarching goal is to create spaces and opportunities to reveal lived realities of power inequalities and difference, and provide evidence that can be deployed in working towards addressing these engrained inequalities. Feminist values are most often deployed to challenge the continued marginalisation of poor women and girls from decision-making, resources and opportunities in a range of contexts. Feminist values and a related focus on ‘gender’ can also allow us to talk about sexual orientation and gender identities in all their diversity, and gendered power relations between individuals and groups. Our starting point in the curation of the workshop that inspired this issue of the journal is that the research process should reflect feminist values, empowering all who participate in it.
Research into the gendered nature of development and analysis of its failure to recognise and/or respond to the differential needs and challenges of women and men is a critical part of feminist activism and transformation, and this is as true today as it was when Gender & Development was launched. Above all, feminist researchers in international development are interested in power: its nature, the ways it can be wielded, and by whom. We are interested in the effect powerful institutions and the elites who head them have on gender inequality, the material effects of which tend disproportionately to affect women and girls living in poverty in the global South. We want to understand how the slow progress to women’s equal rights is going, where it is encountering resistance, and how women and girls – in particular the most marginalised – are finding opportunities to negotiate with the powerful, find spaces for resistance, and organise for empowerment. The political project that we all share, to achieve gender equality by asserting full and equal rights, is about using agency – ‘power to’ and ‘power with’ – to challenge patriarchal ‘power-over’.
Feminist researchers in international development are working in a space where there are multiple intersecting relations of power operating concurrently in interlocking ways, privileging women from high-income countries, white women, and women from powerful elites and majority groups. Among the first global feminist research collectives was the pathbreaking Development with Women for a New era (DAWN) network, which in the 1980s put forward its feminist, postcolonial analysis of international development. It is this vision that underpinned the global vision forged at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. The challenge since has been for the feminist movement to avoid gender equality and women’s rights goals being co-opted by the ‘mainstream’ in ways that depoliticise feminist struggle, and to ensure that feminist research nurtures space for the expression of diverse, contextualised understandings of gendered power imbalances. Gender and Development has always sought to accommodate these different approaches, whilst striving ultimately to promote women’s rights and gender equality.
The writers in this issue represent a diverse group of feminists working in academia, policy research and practice – including monitoring, evaluation and learning. Each of these different contexts holds specific challenges for feminists, but the key feminist value underpinning all their research experiences is the aim of challenging and ending inequality between women and men, affirming women as expert knowers, marginalised by patriarchal power yet exercising agency in often constrained circumstances to further their interests and needs, and those of their dependents.
Both the issue, and the workshop from which it emerges, aim to provide a space where researchers can reflect upon their own experience of research – as investigators, participants, practitioners, academics and/or activists – and the challenges and contradictions they have faced in conducting feminist research, from practical and organisational barriers and struggles, to ethical and methodological dilemmas. How does embedding feminist values in research enable us to navigate and deal with difficult subjects and sensitivities in ways that might otherwise not be possible? How do feminist research practices enable us to translate our values into meaningful ways of tackling inequalities, poverty and exclusion in the global South? The articles here grapple with these issues across a wide range of different development contexts.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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If you would also like to contribute to my website, then do share your articles or poems at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
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