Susie Jolly

Susie Jolly

Honorary Associate

Susie brings over 30 years’ experience working on sexuality and gender. She is currently an Honorary Associate at IDS, teaching and supervising students, and a freelance consultant, researcher, communicator, facilitator and trainer.

From 2010-2017, Susie Jolly led the Ford Foundation sexuality education grant making program in China, totalling US$2 million/year, with the strategy ‘the marginalised educate the mainstream’. She also supported development of Chinese philanthropy, and research on gender and sexuality dimensions of China’s global South relations. Before working at Ford, she founded and convened the Sexuality and Development Programme at IDS, a programme of research, communications and advocacy which contributed to bringing about a greater recognition of the importance of sexual rights to development.

She has completed numerous consultancies on sexuality education, SRHR, HIV/AIDS, gender, and social development, with UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNDP, UN Women, DFID, Sida, Christian Aid and others, in China, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Sweden and Norway. She is an experienced trainer and facilitator, having convened workshops, trainings and courses for audiences ranging from government officials to activists and academics. She has published widely on issues of sexuality and gender, producing academic publications, literature reviews, popular communications, and consultancy reports.

Selected publications

Refereed articles

Jolly, S. (2022) ‘Is development work still so straight? Heteronormativity in the international development industry ten years on’, Development In Practice

Jolly, S. (2016), ‘Positive Approaches to Sexuality and New Normative Frames: Strands of Research and Action in China and the USA’, Sexuality Education 16.3

Jolly, S. (2011) ‘Why is Development Work so Straight? Heteronormativity in the International Development Industry’, Development In Practice 21.1

Jolly S. (2010) ‘Pleasure and Empowerment: Connections and Disconnections’, Development 53.2

Cornwall, A. and Jolly, S. (2009) Guest Editorial: Sexuality and the Development Industry, Development 52

Jolly, S. (2006) ‘Not So Strange Bedfellows: Sexuality and International Development’, Development 49.1

Jolly, S. (2000) ‘Queering development: exploring the links between same-sex sexualities, gender and development’, Gender and Development 8.1

Jolly, S., Cornwall, A., and Hawkins, K. (2013) (eds) Women, Sexuality, and the Political Power of Pleasure, Zed: London

Cornwall, A., Correa, S., and Jolly, S. (eds) (2007) Development with a Body: Perspectives on Sexuality, Rights and Development, Zed: London (includes chapter ‘Development’s encounter with sexuality: essentialism and beyond’, Correa, S., and Jolly, S.)

Jolly, S., with Cornwall, A. (eds) (2006) ‘Sexuality Matters’, IDS Bulletin 37.5, Brighton: IDS

Book chapters/working papers

Jolly, S. (2022) ‘Gender, Sexuality, and Environment’, in Albert Salamanca, A., and Yeophantong, P., (ed), Routledge Handbook of Global Development, London: Routledge

Jolly, S., Oosterhoff, P., Faith, B., Braeken, D., (2020),  ‘A review of the evidence: Sexuality education for young people in digital spaces’, UNESCO

Cornwall, A. and Jolly, S. (2016), ‘Sexuality and the Development Industry: Reflections 6 Years on’, in Harcourt, W. (ed) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development, Palgrave Macmillan: New York

Jolly, S. (2014) ‘Gender and Sexuality Activism in Beijing: Negotiating International Influences and National and Local Processes’, in Pereira, C., (ed) Changing Narratives of Women’s Sexualities: contestations, compliance and women’s empowerment, Zed: London

Burris, M., Jolly, S., Kaufman, J., Lee, E. (2013) ‘Gender and Reproductive Health in China: Ford Foundation and UN Contributions’, in International Philanthropy in China, China Medical Board: Beijing

Jolly, S. (2010) ‘Poverty and Sexuality: What Are the Connections?’ Sida Working Paper

Jolly, S., in Izugbara, C., Undie, C., and Wanjiku Khamasi, J. (ed), (2010) ‘Sexuality and Poverty: What Have They Got to Do with Each Other?’, in Old Wineskins, New Wine: Readings in Sexuality in sub-Saharan Africa, Nova Science Publishers: New York

Cornwall, A. and Jolly, S. (2010) ‘Sexuality, Gender and Poverty’ in Chant, S. (ed), The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty, ELGAR: Oxford

Jolly, S. (2010) ‘Why the development Industry should get over its obsession with bad sex and start to think about pleasure’, in Bergeron, S., and Lind. A. (ed.), Development, Sexual Rights and Global Governance: Resisting Global Power, Routledge: New York

Communications pieces/policy briefings

Jolly, S., (2022) Decolonising Sex Education, Wilson Center blog

Jolly, S., (2021) ‘Heteronormativity in the International Development Sector and Why We Need to Get Over It’ , Wilson Center blog

Jolly, S., (2020), ‘Covid 19 and the impact on gender and sexuality’ IDS blog

Jolly, S., and Shephard, K., (eds) (2020), Switched On: An exhibition on digital sexuality education providers, UNESCO

Jolly, S. (2016) ‘Why gender and sexuality are central to China’s relationships with the global south’, Ford Foundation blog, [received over 250,000 hits]

Jolly, S. (2015) ‘Chinese NGOs name Ford among top donor partners’,  Ford Foundation blog

Jolly, S. (2015) ‘A More Inclusive Approach to Grant Making’, Ford Foundation blog

Jolly, S. (2013) ‘Sexuality and the Economy in China’, IDS Policy Briefing, Brighton: IDS

Jolly, S. (2009) ‘Sexuality Activism in China-Lessons for and from Donors’, IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 8.3, Brighton: IDS

Jolly, S. (2008) ‘Rethinking Sexuality and Policy’, id21 Insights 75, Brighton: IDS

Jolly, S., Esplen, E. and Ilkkaracan, P. (2007) ‘Gender and Sexuality’, Cutting Edge Pack, BRIDGE, Brighton: IDS

Jolly, S. (2006) ‘Sexuality and Development’, IDS Policy Briefing, Brighton: IDS

Jolly S. and Cornwall, A. (2006) Quick Guide to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, ELDIS




Covid-19 and the impact on gender and sexuality

Differences are emerging in the way people develop Covid-19 – whether by age, underlying health, geography or socio-economic factors, people are not experiencing the pandemic equally.  Although women and men appear to have an equal chance of contracting Covid-19, globally, in almost every...

21 May 2020


Journal Article

Introduction: Sexuality Matters

IDS Bulletin 37.5

I work a lot on issues of sexuality and sexual rights. And every time I mention that in the context of India, I am told that the community is not ready for it, in a country where poverty is so high why do we need to talk of sexuality; this is a western notion and I am English speaking and that...

28 January 2016

Journal Article

Sexuality and the Development Industry

Development 52

A Chinese lesbian activist shows photos from her three way fake ‘wedding’, held in a Beijing restaurant to open up discussion on restrictive social and sexual norms; a Nicaraguan consultant tells the tale of how he was told the sexual and reproductive strategy he’d been commissioned to...

1 January 2009

Journal Article

Sexuality Matters

IDS Bulletin 37.5

This IDS Bulletin addresses a theme that mainstream development has persistently neglected: sexuality. Over the last decade, development policymakers and practitioners have come to endorse a multi-dimensional approach to poverty, and growing attention has been placed on achieving greater...

1 October 2006

Susie Jolly’s recent work