Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Women in Development – Dissecting the Discourse

Vijayamohanan, Pillai N. and Asalatha, B. P. and Ponnuswamy, B. (2009): Women in Development – Dissecting the Discourse.

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Abstract

The concept of women’s development has now become an integral part of the development discourses and policy initiatives. This development has been informed by a remarkable though gradual shift in the perception about women, from the stature of victims and passive objects to that of independent agents. A significant impetus to raising such an informed platform came with the adoption of development issues within the UN system, in the background of increasing activism of development practitioners. The present paper critically traces the contours and its possible shades of this awakening that rises from the less ‘threatening’ planning for Women in Development (WID) to the more ‘confrontational’ gender planning with its aspiring goal of empowerment and emancipation. These movements have occasioned an increasing space for policy initiatives and interventions in favour of poor women in the Third World. There has been a gradual shift in orientation of these policy approaches towards women from ‘welfare’, to equity’ to anti-poverty’ to ‘efficiency’ and finally to ‘empowerment’. The policy reorientation reflects the changes in the basic economic approaches of the time, from modernization policies of accelerated growth, to basic needs strategies of growth with redistribution, to the recent so-called ‘compensatory measures’ for the neo-liberal illfare. The paper argues, inter alia, that the compensatory measures imply a substitution of the agency of civil society for that of the state in development process, the original agenda of the neo-liberalism.

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