Pleasure and Women's Empowerment Workshop

Monday 14 December 2009 - Thursday 17 December 2009

This workshop will explore if and how positive and pleasure-filled approaches to sexuality can empower women. This will be hosted by the IDS convened Sexuality and Development Programme, and Pathways of Women's Empowerment Research Programme Consortium.

The workshop will bring together about twenty key individuals from different regions (mostly Africa, Asia, Latin America and the UK) who have been working on these areas in either a conceptual or practical sense, with a view to generating in-depth discussion and documentation.

The links between sexual liberation and women's empowerment have been substantially explored on a theoretical level, and in some regions women's movements have taken up sexuality as a central issue.  However, the links remain unexplored in relation to development work. There is also a gap in the documentation of practical initiatives which seek to empower women through positive approaches to sexuality. This workshop will aim to address this gap through discussions and subsequent communications and publications. The quotes below give a flavour of our thinking for this event:

"People thought we were wasting time talking about sex and pleasure, when maternal mortality is so high... but I was convinced that if this delicate taboo thing - sexual pleasure - could be negotiated by women, then almost anything can be negotiated... and that idea gave me multiple orgasms!" (Aken'Ova, D, INCRESE, Nigeria cited in The Pleasure Project's 'Global Mapping of Pleasure': 52)

"... our vision of sexual justice must have space for pleasure and desire, and it must thus grapple with how to reclaim those terms from their currently commodified status." (Bedford, K and Jakobsen, J, 2008, 'Towards a Vision of Sexual and Economic Justice', New Feminist Solutions, Volume 4:11)

For more information, please contact Susie Jolly, Sexuality and Development Programme Convenor: