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Women in Development vs. Gender and Development

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Most of the people who inhabit this world live in poverty. However, women are more likely than men to be impoverished. This is called the feminization of poverty. [1] In the 1970s, feminists and agents of development came up with an approach to address this problem called the Women in Development [WID] approach. As the years went by, this approach was criticized. A new approach emerged out of this critique called Gender and Development [GAD] approach.

This paper makes two arguments: that GAD is the best approach to address the inequalities women experience in developing countries, and that the WID approach must also play a supportive role in addressing these inequalities.

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A crucial difference between the GAD approach and the WID approach is that GAD focuses on gender whereas WID focuses on women[2]. Although many people may think this is the same thing, they are mistaken. Gender is a cultural construct. It is the set of dispositions, behaviours, and roles that a given culture considers appropriate for each sex.

Sex, on the other hand, is different from gender. Sex is the physical and biological attributes that differentiate between males and females. The category of women, as focused on by the WID approach, is clearly a category of sex and not gender. This is a major flaw in the WID analysis, for it assumes that women will have common, homogeneous interests simply because of their sex. This ignores that women have varied and often conflicting interests depending on their class, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. 3] However, there are obviously areas where women have common interests; yet rather than calling these ‘women’s interests’, a more appropriate term would be ‘gender interests’. These are the interests that women or men share due to the specific concerns surrounding their gender roles and expectations. [4] Since the GAD approach focuses on gender and not sex, it recognizes that a woman’s interests will vary depending on the intersection of race, class, religion, and sexual orientation in her life.

Theoretically, the GAD approach will take these differences into account rather than endorsing one-size-fits-all development solutions for women. The WID approach and the GAD approach are both concerned with improving the lives of women through development. However, their diagnosis of the problem and thus their proposed solutions are radically different. According to the WID approach, the problem is that women’s needs are excluded from the development process. [5] This is an naccurate diagnosis of the problem and so it follows that the WID solution – that women’s needs be incorporated into the development process – is also inaccurate. This statement is not just supposition but based on observation of reality. The fact is that the WID solution has already been implemented for a couple of decades now. Ruth Pearson states, “[i]t is widely accepted in these times that development must be informed by gender analysis … so much so that the position has become commonplace rather than radical…”[6] And so, according to WID analysis, the problem has already been solved.

Yet poverty and subordination remain major issues for women. Obviously, then, something else must be the problem, and GAD gets right to the root of it: patriarchy. [7] Patriarchy is a complicated concept with many layers of meaning, but in this essay it will be defined on three fronts: a system of male supremacy; a strict social code of rigid gender expectations in terms of disposition, behaviour, and roles; an ideology of dominance and subordination, whereas ‘masculine’ is associated with that which is dominant and ‘feminine’ is associated with that which is subordinate.

The ways in which patriarchy subordinates and disenfranchises women are innumerable and beyond the scope of this essay. However, for now it is sufficient to say that the GAD approach recognizes patriarchy as the culprit and therefore the solutions it proposes are concerned with dismantling the system of patriarchy. [8] Another major difference between the WID approach and the GAD approach is which needs or interests they choose to address. The WID approach focuses on women’s ‘practical gender needs’. These are the needs women have that are specific to their gendered roles in society. 9] For instance, if it is a women’s gendered role to care for children, then examples of practical gender needs would be education, daycare, and nutritional supplements for infants and small children. Overall, practical gender needs address a woman’s immediate material survival and ease the burden of her gendered responsibilities. However, they “do not challenge the gender division of labour or a women’s subordinate position in society…”[10] The GAD approach, however, by focussing on women’s ‘strategic gender needs’, does challenge both these things.

Strategic gender needs encompass a diverse range of issues, from economic issues such as the pay-gap between men and women, to gender role issues such as the domestic division of labour, and even issues not traditionally associated with development, such as violence against women. [11] At the root of all these issues is patriarchy, and thus, the dismantling of patriarchy is the aim of strategic gender needs. Although practical gender needs and strategic gender needs both have their merit, problems arise if development policies focus exclusively on practical gender needs.

If women’s strategic gender needs are not also addressed, the benefits gained by addressing women’s practical gender needs may not be realized. For example, one practical gender need is providing paid jobs for women. There are obvious benefits to this. When a woman has an income, it helps to raise her and her family out of poverty. It also theoretically gives the woman economic power which should translate to relational power within the family and social power within the community.

However, the structures of gender inequality may prevent her from benefiting from her income. Although the money was earned by the woman, her husband may feel that by right of his male privilege he should take control over it, and thus her relational power within the family will not increase. [12] In fact, it is possible that her relational power within the family may actually diminish. Patriarchy teaches us that within a relationship one must either be dominant or subordinate.

Patriarchy also teaches us that masculinity is defined by power. When these lessons are combined with the ideology of capitalism, which equates money with power, a woman earning money within the family may feel quite threatening to her husband’s sense of power, masculinity, and his very position within the relationship. He may then compensate for this by exercising power in other ways, such as violence towards his wife, which will also allow him to express his resentment towards her for disrupting his masculine identity.

Another major distinction between the WID approach and the GAD approach is that the WID approach focuses on ‘women’s’ issues in a way that separates them from ‘real’ development issues, whereas GAD seeks to incorporate gender awareness into all development issues. [13] When ‘women’s’ issues are seen as separate from ‘real’ development issues, then women’s gender interests become marginalized and underfunded. What is needed, and what the GAD approach advocates, is gender mainstreaming.

As Ruth Pearson puts it, “women should be key participants in and beneficiaries of … the whole gamut of the development issues – not just in traditional ‘women’s’ areas of health, family planning and education. ”[14] The WID approach is exclusively concerned with helping women to escape poverty and eradicating the feminization of poverty. Although the GAD approach is also concerned with this, it recognizes that “…gender subordination cannot be reduced to poverty…”[15] There are innumerable other gender specific issues which women face, such as rape, a shamed sexuality, domestic violence, and lack of reproductive rights. 16] Although these are not traditional development issues, they are vitally important to the well being of women and society. The GAD analysis challenges us to expand and redefine our notions of development to encompass less quantifiable aspects of the human condition such as psychological well-being. One of the most crucial differences between these two approaches is that the GAD approach focuses on men’s gender issues as well as women’s gender issues, whereas the WID approach focuses exclusively on women. [17] There are many reasons why women’s liberation is inextricably bound up with men’s liberation.

First of all, “in order for women to gain power, men have to give up power. ”[18] And in order for women’s roles to change, men’s roles must also change. Currently, though some progress is being made integrating women into the traditionally male domain of the paid labour force, almost no progress has been made integrating men into the traditionally female domain of domestic labour and childcare. This forces women to work a double-day, which is more oppressive than it is liberating. Secondly, men need to be liberated from patriarchy, too.

Even though patriarchy grants men a privileged position relative to women [particularly women of their own or a subordinate class and race], there are many painful aspects attached to this privilege. Again, the ways in which patriarchy is damaging for males are innumerable and beyond the scope of this essay, but the main issue is the intense social shaming that males receive if they stray from the expectations of patriarchal masculinity. This means that men and even boys are prohibited from expressing the full range of human emotions, like fear or sadness.

They must be invulnerable. They must reject inner impulses to nurture or be nurtured. This list could go on, but the point is that patriarchy coerces males – as it does females – into a rigid gender identity that does not allow them to experience their full humanity. Moreover, it is the traits that are expected of males – like aggression or dominance – which end up hurting females, and the traits that are forbidden of them – like empathy or tenderness – which would enable them to stop oppressing females.

The issue, then, is not men, but sexist socialization, which males and females internalize equally. In fact, in order for women to be liberated, females also need to overcome their internalized sexism which causes them to oppress each other and also to ridicule and reject males who attempt to challenge their patriarchal gender identity, effectively shaming them back into the gender-box. [19] The GAD approach is overall a better strategy for addressing the inequalities that women experience in developing countries.

However, there are ways that WID is a better approach. Addressing women’s practical gender needs is relatively easy and concrete; the results are quantifiable and are seen immediately. Addressing women’s strategic gender needs, on the other hand, is very difficult and abstract; the results tend to be unquantifiable and may take generations to come about. Moreover, though practical gender needs do not address the root problem of patriarchy, they do address immediate needs which – though arising from unfair gender roles – are nonetheless very real.

After all, if women do not have a job, they may starve to death while battling sexism. And, without daycare, who is going to watch the children while mommy dismantles patriarchy? So, rather than being antagonistic to each other, we see that GAD and WID “are linked and often inseparable. ”[20] Therefore, the best strategy is for the GAD approach to be used in conjunction with the WID approach. Otherwise, women will not have the inclination or capacity to pursue the GAD agenda. Gender and Development is a Better Strategy than Women in Development or Addressing the Inequalities Faced by Women in Developing Countries By: Harmony Hussey For: Gary Romanuk Date: November 15th, 2005 Course Code: SOCS 1430 Word Count: 1,747 bIbLiOgRaPhY Canel, Eduardo. Lecture for SOCS 1430. York University: October 18th, 2005. Chesler, Phyllis. Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. New York: Thunder Mouth Press / Nation Books, 2001. Moser, C. Gender Planning and Development: theory, practice and training. London: Routledge, 1993. Cited in Pearson. Pearson, Ruth. “Rethinking Gender Matters in Development. Poverty and Development into the 21st Century. Ed. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000. Romanuk, Gary. Tutorial discussion for SOCS 1430. York University: October 18th, 2005. ———————– [1] Pearson, Ruth. “Rethinking Gender Matters in Development. ” Poverty and Development into the 21st Century. Ed. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 398 [2] Ibid, p. 392 [3] Moser, C. Gender Planning and Development: theory, practice and training. London: Routledge, 1993.

Cited in Pearson, p. 388 [4] Ibid, p. 388 [5] Pearson, Ruth. “Rethinking Gender Matters in Development. ” Poverty and Development into the 21st Century. Ed. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 390 [6] Ibid, p. 383 [7] Canel, Eduardo. Lecture for SOCS 1430. York University: October 18th, 2005. [8] Ibid. [9] Pearson, Ruth. “Rethinking Gender Matters in Development. ” Poverty and Development into the 21st Century. Ed. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 86 – 387 [10] Ibid, p. 388 [11] Ibid. , p. 387 [12] Ibid, p. 397 [13] Ibid, p. 400 [14] Ibid, p. 384 [15] Ibid, p. 399 [16] Ibid, p. 388 [17] Ibid, p. 400 [18] Romanuk, Gary. Tutorial discussion for SOCS 1430. York University: October 18th, 2005. [19] Chesler, Phyllis. Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. New York: Thunder Mouth Press / Nation Books, 2001. [20] Pearson, Ruth. “Rethinking Gender Matters in Development. ” Poverty and Development into the 21st Century. Ed. Allen, Tim & Thomas, Alan. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 401

Cite this Women in Development vs. Gender and Development

Women in Development vs. Gender and Development. (2018, Mar 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/women-in-development-vs-gender-and-development/

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