Gender and Development: Issues and Implications

N. Santosh Ranganath Faculty Member Department of Commerce & Management Studies, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University, Srikakulam. The ‘women and development’ approach is introduced and focused on the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy which considered to be the women will be subordinated to men as long as capitalism is the dominant economic system. Critics of this perspective say it fails to address differences in the inequalities experienced by different communities of women, and does not recognize the fact that patriarchy exists in communist societies as well as in capitalist ones.

Next, the ‘gender and development’ perspective is introduced as a holistic analytical tool that can be used to provide an overview of the realities of development. Associated with ‘women for a new era’, GAD sought to dismantle notions about what is considered masculine or feminine, as well as the power dynamics that result from these assumptions. The’ effectiveness’ approach is also introduced and related to the WID approach in its quest to shed light on the vital role women play in production.

The recent ‘mainstreaming gender equality’ initiative is also presented, and its intention to put gender at the forefront of all social policy, including that of development, is explained. The relationship between poverty and gender is made explicit throughout and this connection is attributed to factors such as unequal access to education and property rights. One of the main issues in regard to the service sector is the variety of activities that are encompassed by that term.

Thus the effect of liberalization on, for example, financial services, will be quite different for women who may be primarily affected as consumers than the liberalization of other industries within that sector which may affect women also as workers. Many of the concerns over the possible effect of trade liberalization on women have been informed by the previous experience of public sector privatization and economic austerity experienced under the Structural Adjustment Programs implemented since the 1980’s.

Yet, given that trade liberalization as we see it today is a fairly recent phenomenon, it is difficult to assert with precision what are the effects of liberalization on men and women. For the reasons explained above, women as a group may face more obstacles in taking advantage of the changing economic structure, especially in converting new opportunities into long-term improvements. But women do not form a homogenous group and thus the impact of liberalization will likely be differentiated.

Many of the issues and questions that arise today and which have drawn opposition to trade liberalization are also linked to the fact that trade agreements and trade liberalization have become more encompassing and thus moved beyond the original agreements on goods. The expansion of liberalization to such areas as services raises new questions as more sectors of society become affected by these changes.

Because of the structure of gender relations, it is possible those women will be affected differently than men by the opening of markets to foreign competition and that their capacity to adapt to new economic conditions will also be different. If this is the case, the capacity of women to take advantage of the new opportunities while minimizing the negative impact of liberalization is crucial to ensure that women, those who depend on them and society as a whole benefit from the current changes.

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