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Changing Perceptions: Writings on gender and development

Changing Perceptions: Writings on gender and development

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Published by Oxfam
Women's needs and abilities are frequently disregarded by development planners, and even 'women's projects' may be unhelpful because they reflect gender stereotypes and maintain a situation which is prejudicial to women's real interests. This wide-ranging collection of articles gives an overview of many aspects of gender and development.
Women's needs and abilities are frequently disregarded by development planners, and even 'women's projects' may be unhelpful because they reflect gender stereotypes and maintain a situation which is prejudicial to women's real interests. This wide-ranging collection of articles gives an overview of many aspects of gender and development.

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Published by: Oxfam on Apr 12, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/15/2014

 
IX
PREFACE
Tina Wallace
Oxfam's Gender and Development Unit (GADU) was started in1985 as a result of lobbying from a number of women employedboth in the field and in Oxford. They were concerned about the waythat women had been left out of, or actually disadvantaged by, theaid and development process. They stressed the need to focus onthe roles of both men and women in society in order to understandwomen's subordinate positions; and to understand that any changesto improve the lives of women would have to involve changes tothe whole society. So the focus of the Unit was gender rather thanonly women's issues, though much of the work is concerned withredressing the balance for women in development.GADU has a very wide remit within the Overseas Division ofOxfam, but the primary purpose is 'to promote the integration of agender perspective into all areas of Oxfam's work and to ensure thatwomen as well as men benefit from Oxfam's programmes'. Thisinvolves GADU in working to support Oxfam staff as they seek outand listen to women to find new ways of working with women andmen, and in developing new tools and concepts for understandingand improving the gender relations and the situation of women indiverse cultural settings. GADU is involved in project advice, stafftraining, the development of research and evaluation, sharinginformation through seminars and a Newspack, and developingwritten and audio-visual resources for use by staff and projectpartners.The purpose of the Newspacks is to share material written byacademics for field staff on gender issues; to share the experience ofstaff in the field; and to learn from the ideas of project partners.Over a four year period the packs have developed into a forumwhere both theoretical and practical ideas are shared across a widerange of countries, staff and interested academics. The range ofwriters and material covered is of interest to a wider audience than
 
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Preface
the packs can reach, so the decision was made to select a number ofkey articles and publish them in this book.The book covers a wide spectrum of issues all relating to genderas a development issue. It is divided into sections for easy use. Thefirst section explores how some of the global issues of the 1980s andearly '90s such as debt, structural adjustment, war and environ-mental degradation directly affect women and the relations betweenwomen and men. Many of the articles in this section have beenwritten by academics in a way that is accessible to a wide range ofpeople. Section Two looks at the specifics of women's experiences indifferent cultures, and how their subordination directly affects theirday to day lives. The focus is especially on women's health and therange of factors that limit women's access to health care, and to allother critical resources, in the society. This section has largely drawnon the work of Oxfam staff or project partners.The third section again primarily uses the work of academics toexplore different ways of working with women. What tools andmethods can be used to increase understanding of women's needs,responsibilities and rights, and to understand how existing genderrelations affect these? Section Four is essentially a practical section,presenting a wide range of case studies which explore differentways of working with women
either in separate groups or in thewider community — to improve their lives. The range of directexperience is exciting and stimulating, and comes from staff andproject partners.The fifth section provides an opportunity for Oxfam staff toexpress their responses and views on the whole issue of workingwith women, and looking at gender relations. Gender is anintensely complex area of work which people have conflicting viewson and feel very strongly about, and some of the reasons for this areexplored here.The book closes with a call for a wider and more radical vision ofthe future, where women are enabled to play their proper part. Thiscall comes out of a Third World women's networking group calledDAWN, an organisation growing in power and importance.This is a book which is of interest to a wide range of readers:academics (who rarely have the chance to hear the views andexperiences of practitioners); students of development, anddevelopment workers. It is a rare attempt to combine theory andpractice in a way which illuminates the complexity and diversity of

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