Emerging Issues in Gender and Development: An Overview

Published on 1 January 2002

This paper provides a brief overview of the emerging issues in gender and development policy, practice and theory. Since the UN World Conference in Beijing (1995) many development organisations have made important progress in addressing a gender equality perspective through adopting gender mainstreaming strategies. Gender equality is being increasingly advanced as a strategic objective for effective development and has therefore become central to the work of all development organisation staff.

Five years on, the impetus of the Beijing +5 process – which culminated in the UN 23rd Special Session in New York, 5-9 June 2000 – has provided opportunity for reflections on progress made and for the identification of future priorities including strategies for overcoming poor implementation of policies. Whilst the 23rd Session failed to address all the wishes of gender advocates, it has strengthened development organisations’ commitment to addressing new concerns arising from the rapid pace of globalisation. Bilaterals, multilaterals, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also recognised the need to collaborate and coordinate their work if they are to strategically tackle these concerns.

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Working Party on Gender Equality (WP-GEN) has made considerable progress in coordinating a number of ministries and development cooperation agencies’ efforts to ensure that gender is mainstreamed into their work. From discussions with a number of representatives from multilaterals, bilaterals, NGOs and academic institutions, and reference to a number of key documents, the current major priority is to address the unequal effects of globalisation on women and men, and to establish ways of making macro-level economic processes and analyses more gender-sensitive.

Globalisation processes have also provided the means and the need to make information more accessible internationally through information and communications technologies (ICTs). ICTs have increasingly moved onto the agenda for their empowering potential. However, agencies need to succeed in widening access, including to those marginalised by globalisation processes.

This report on emerging issues will start by exploring sector-wide approaches (SWAps) and the extent to which they have enabled the integration of gender equality concerns. SWAps are increasingly being adopted by donor agencies as an effective and efficient way to ensure that development initiatives have national reach and ownership. The report will then turn to the identified key emerging themes and priority sectors. It ends with a methodology section and bibliography.

Publication details

Bell, E.
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