Gender And Development

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Gender and Development

Explanations for the position of women in the Developing World:

Leonard argues that in any country across the world- women are worse of then men, by having less power less autonomy and do more work and earn less money. But in the developing world, the conditions of development such a dependency, exploitation are experienced by women much more than men.

Liberal feminism and development

Modernisation theorists argue that internal cultural values are the reason for inequalities among women in developing countries as some cultures and religions ascribe status on the basis of gender. Therefore, patriarchal norms flourish.

Boserup was a liberal feministic who was influenced by modernisation theory, and that the low status of women creates an obstacle for development. Their contribution to the economy is not being noted and their status as mothers contribute to over-population.
Boserup also pointed out that colonialism had a negative impact on women in the developing world- women lost their status of farmers as colonial powers assumed it was a male job. The brining of Christianity with colonial and its patriarchal values may also of had an effect.

Boserup’s solution to this is that women should be incorporated into the development process, and that the benefits of modernisation should extend to include women. She also stressed the importance of education which would result in, women’s access to formal paid employment, raising their status in society and also break the cycle of early childbearing through learning about family planning and health.

However – Leonard, a radical socialist feminist is critical of the arguments of Boserup;

  • Boserup places to much emphasis on women in the puplic sphere and ignores the role of women in the private sphere, argued that the opening of opportunities in the public sphere through education without addressing the sexual basis of the division of labour in the private sphere will have little impact.

  • Boserup ignores the position of women in the developed world, and that there is still patriarchy in developed societies.

Socialist Feminism – Marginalisation Thesis

Abbott & Wallace argue that the introduction of capitalism and Western Values, for example femininity and family values have been imposed on the developing world, such as a woman’s place being at home.
Leonard argues that colonialism introduced a cash economy into the developing world, in which mostly men were absorbed into- leaving woman left with subsistence work and furthermore marginalising women in the developing world.

Leonard even argues that women are being marginalised by aid projects, for example;

  • Aid projects are not gender-neutral, and many aid projects come with Western Values attached, thus aid workers bring patriarchal prejudices about women and technology found in their own society.

  • Debt and S.A.P’s also have a significant impact on women as their impacts often resulting of men being squeezed out of the


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