Strategies of Feminist Bureaucrats: Perspectives from International NGOs
Ines Smyth and Laura Turquetwith Preface by Rosalind Eyben
This paper explores the challenges and opportunities for feminists working as women’s rightsand gender equality specialists in international non-governmental developmentorganisations, as analysed from an insider practitioner perspective. Part 1 identifies thestrategies used and the challenges encountered when Turquet lobbied DFID on its genderequality policy while struggling to avoid marginalisation within her own organisation, ActionAid. In Part 2, Smyth describes how she left Oxfam for a year to work in the AsianDevelopment Bank and uses this experience to consider the strategic opportunities availableto a gender specialist working in an NGO such as Oxfam as compared with working in aninternational finance institution.
gender mainstreaming, feminist activism, gender and development
is Senior Gender Advisor in Oxfam Great Britain, where she is responsible fordeveloping strategies and policy positions on women’s rights, and working closely withprograms across the many countries in which the organisation works. She recently spent aninteresting year as the Leading Gender Specialist at the Asian Development Bank, as thispaper testifies. Before joining Oxfam she was a lecturer and researcher in various academicinstitutions, focusing on various aspects of gender and development. Ines considers herself afeminist and a development practitioner.
is currently the manager of UN Women’s flagship report, Progress of theWorld’s Women, and she was also the lead author of the last edition which focused onwomen’s access to justice. Laura has worked for UN Women and its predecessor UNIFEM inNew York for three years. She has worked on women’s rights for 10 years, including at theinternational NGO ActionAid UK (which she draws upon in this paper), at the Institute ofDevelopment Studies at the University of Sussex and for a UK feminist campaigningorganisation, the Fawcett Society.
is a Fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change Team at theInstitute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.