Duncan Green reviews the balance of achievements on gender equality as summarized in a new paper from Gender and Development Network and shares some videos in honor of International Women's Day.
It was International Women’s Day on Sunday, which is swiftly followed by celebrations around the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Beijing conference (I still remember the buzz from women returning from that) and the start of the 59th Commission on the Status of Women at the UN – an annual spotlight on progress (or otherwise) on women’s rights.
Gender is a big deal in Oxfam, and I’ve often been struck by what the rest of the development business can learn from progress on gender rights, and the activism that underpins it. For starters:
Power begins with ‘power within’, when previously marginalized people kindle their sense of rights, dignity and voice. Far more of our work should start there.
Norms really matter. Gender activism shows just how shallow a lot of advocacy can be, when it concentrates on the ephemera of policy, and ignores the social norms that underpin identity and injustice. And international movements can have real impact on those norms.
Stamina: any struggle worth its salt takes decades – you don’t just look for a quick win and move on.
The world beyond money – work on areas such as the ‘care economy’ highlights just how much of what really matters lies outside the monetary economy that dominates thinking on development. We should be talking about shame and joy as much as about income and assets.
(I also happen to think the gender activists could learn useful lessons from others, but that’s another post.)
As for IWD, first some heavy policy, then some fun videos.