Alternative development models and practices from feminist perspectives

Debate Issues1

I. Background For the past two decades, the dominant development model has centered on neo-liberal economic policy, emphasizing open markets, trade liberalization, foreign investment and macroeconomic stability and the reduction of the role of the state. Within this paradigm, international trade and the private sector have been flaunted as the best means by which to achieve national development and wealth.2 As a result, resources have progressively shifted away from an “aid for development” model that supports public intervention in development policies, to an “aid for trade” agenda that advances the notion that aid is most effective when used to increase private sector competitiveness and production.3 Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) began imposing structural adjustment policies4 in the 1980s, global economic liberalization became stronger in the 1990s. The privatization of basic services such as water, education and health care has further increased inequality by decreasing both the quantity and quality of public health and education services.5 Empirical evidence and civil society voices, including voices from women’s rights organizations, have shown that fiscal privileges for businesses and the privatization of public goods have not resulted in broad based economic growth, or in gender-sensitive development.6 The effects of economic liberalization policies are gendered, affecting men and women differently. Women, for instance, carry a disproportionate burden of the effects of privatization through the absorption of duties once performed by the State (i.e. water, health care). While macroeconomic policy decisions have been imbued with technical jargon –
This document was developed by Natalie Raaber, Cecilia Alemany, and Anne Schoenstein (AWID). Iorio, Maria Rosaria, “Global Governance, International Development Discourses and National Policy-Making: Highlights of Critical Issues,” produced by IGTN, available at 3 Ibid. 4 Structural adjustment is a term used to describe the policy changes implemented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (the Bretton Woods Institutions) in developing countries. These policy changes are conditions for getting new loans from the IMF or World Bank, or for obtaining lower interest rates on existing loans. Through conditionalities, Structural Adjustment Programs generally implement "free market" programs and policy. These programs include internal changes (notably privatization and deregulation) as well as external ones, especially the reduction of trade barriers. Countries that fail to enact these programs are often subject to severe fiscal discipline, higher risk country indexes and lack of financial support from the international financial institutions. 5 Social Watch: 6 Ibid Ref.2.



S. Bangkok. however policy practices remained aligned to that model but without using the ”old” “The non-economic dimensions of the economy. The level of fragmentation.” presented by Norma Sanchís at 10th AWID International Forum. available at http://www.allowing their ideological basis to be. 2008. as a synonym for market fundamentalism. The term has come to be used in a different and broader sense. It includes the Copenhagen Declaration.further exacerbates the inequalities generated through the neo-liberal development agenda. 10 The Washington consensus is a set of ten specific economic policy prescriptions that constituted a "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries by Washington D. Cecilia. at first glance. inequality has risen and income distribution has become increasingly imbalanced and the nuances among the so-called developed countries have to be taken into account. World Bank and the U. Introduction (not published). The international financial model designed at the end of the II World War is over. the Beijing Declaration among other. With the failure of the Washington Consensus.10 a broad acceptance of the shortcomings of economic policy conditionalities and structural adjustment programs took hold.html 8 Alemany. Within developed countries.coupled with crises around food.8 More than ever. It is not coincidental that these events/crises have occurred simultaneously: they are inextricably linked and part and parcel of a failed development paradigm. that may perpetuate statu quo or promote change for more inclusive and sustainable models. Women’s organizations have been strong actors criticizing the lack of ambitious if these minimal development goals named MDGs. 9 The internationally agreed development goals. Women develop different strategies to find out alternative livelihood that often take place under the informal economy. in development or ”under-developed” by themselves.9 The dire financial and economic situation we find ourselves in today . Treasury Department. 7 2 . socio-economically advantaged minority (a global elite). indeed. and has become associated with neo-liberal policies in general. the environment and water . In those countries. and Conferences on Development and related issues under the United Nations. services and knowledge in all the countries. obscured – it is clear that these prescriptions are neither gender neutral nor without a socioeconomic agenda. incapable of making substantial progress toward the internationally agreed development goals (IADG). a paradigm that has unfortunately been consistently defended by key global players and the international financial institutions (also called the Bretton Woods Institutions). Most recently the Millennium Development Goals came as a synthesized ”light” version of those commitments. large territories and significant social groups remain marginalized. Usually different levels of development co-exist in the same society or territory. Countries are not developed. Paris III Sorbonne La Nouvelle. women have to confront the multiplier effect of inequality. Various groups and publications question the appropriateness and/or fairness of the MDGs as international development goals . October 2005. at the end of 2008 the current international model has proved to be unsustainable and.C based institutions such as the International Monetary While developing countries have ”islands of development”. Draft PhD Thesis on ”CSO regional strategies in the Mercosur countries”. We have different levels of development and access to goods. bestowing benefits to a small. IHEAL.choike.and raise concerns over whether the MDGs are representative of a true international consensus on the definition of development. are all the international Conventions. and the profit that speculators and transnational companies made for its institutional gaps in unethical and challenged now. and they are themselves contested. Development models or non-models’ characteristics depend also on the design of the international system and the regional structures. as well. inequalities and political and economic concentration at the national but also at the global level will strength or reduce the level of development and the redistribution alternatives at the country level.7 The impact of the neo-liberal development agenda has been contradictory and often skewed.

12 Pambazuka News 394. at the Accra International Women’s Forum in Ghana (August 2008). Madunagu discussed the current framework within which development policy is formulated and the dangerous consequences that have ensued as a result of the adaptation of the neo-liberal model. political and non-participatory nature. pro-poor growth and sustainability. representing a donor-driven initiative that was gender-blinded. the answer. “Effectiveness of aid or ending aid dependence?” available at http://www. the aid effectiveness process and the Paris Declaration have been criticized from the civil society groups and women’s organisations for its relatively closed.” presented at the opening plenary session of AWID's 9th International Forum On Women's Rights And Development: Guadalajara. equity. building momentum for future discussions. 2002. Mexico. political.we have yet to offer a plausible alternative. What would a feminist development paradigm look like? This is a complex question.11 At the AWID Forum in Bangkok (October 2005) and the International Consultation of Women’s Organizations and Networks and Aid Effectiveness (January/February 2008). While feminists and other social movements’ activists have been critical of the dominant paradigm for decades – critiquing its overreliance on the market. Power asymmetries – economic. In a report to the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF). October 3 . “Current Neo-Liberal Development: Feminist Alternatives. Most recently. as a result. however. women’s rights activists put forth recommendations on how to ensure that aid and development policies and processes incorporate a gender equality perspective.pambazuka. The present aid and development architecture at the international level is an obstacle to true national ownership of development plans. the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN). at the 9th AWID international forum on women’s rights and development in Guadalajara. Participation by developing countries was limited. the negotiation process did not engage the full range of stakeholders. will undoubtedly be based within a human rights framework and include principles of social justice.6. Mexico. women’s rights organizations have historically been excluded from the aid and development effectiveness processes and discussions. II. In 2002. 11 3 . cultural and knowledgerelated – are deeply embedded in this architecture and. stated that while the Paris Declaration marked a “step change in articulating benchmarks for progress. Ban Ki Moon. Bene Madunagu opened the conference with a paper entitled Current Neo-liberal Development: Feminist Alternatives. Bene.13 While gaining ground in representation in recent years. women’s organizations once again debated alternative models of development. its obsession with global capitalism. developing countries have found it increasingly difficult to secure meaningful policy space to advance their views.12 Originating within the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-DAC). with civil society organizations and private foundations Madunagu. Setting the Political Scene Discussions on an alternative development paradigm have been taking place for years. gender equality.jargon from the 1990s. the excessive prominence of the Bretton Woods Institutions and its unilateral spirit .org/en/issue/394 13 Ibid.

19 Ibid. Document No. offers an opportunity to shift the discussion to a more inclusive. endorsed on 2 March 2005. the DCF offers the space to connect the “different international agendas and fora on the related agendas to development…[including] trade. providing a balanced space for discussion with equal participation of all countries. Produced by WIDE. at the expense of alternatives. IGTN. the voices of the most marginalized groups and of those who have disproportionably shouldered the burden of failed development policies – namely women . democratic arena.’ who should define development. 14 4 . participative. substantive discussion on the normative aspects of development – namely what is meant by the term ‘development.”16 While space to discuss aid was made at the 3rd High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra. designed and primarily implemented by donors) is failing to fulfil the right to development as stated in the 1986 Report of the Secretary General.are more than often absent. E/2008/69: p. In these official spaces. the DCF would also serve well as a space to promote coherence between the activities of the various development partners.”19 Therefore. “Trends and Progress in International Development Cooperation. CSOs have suggested that the DCF be used to address development strategies and policies and financing of development cooperation. The DCF is well-positioned to bring all development stakeholders together. Ghana (September 2008) and will be made at the Monterrey Consensus Review Conference in Doha (November/December 2008). Heads of Agencies and other Senior Officials adhered and committed their countries and organizations to continue to increase efforts in harmonization. June 2008. alignment and managing aid for results with a set of monitorable actions and indicators. been constrained by narrow concepts and an ideology that. many remain wary of a forum dominated by donors. where the particular characteristics of SouthSouth cooperation are not taken into account.continues to be lacking. 15 The Paris Declaration. what does development effectiveness entail and how is development effectiveness measured . is an international agreement to which over one hundred Ministers.17 Amongst other advantages. DAWN and AWID and coordinated by Cecilia Alemany and Graciela Dede. 18 Conditionalities Undermine the Right to Development: An analysis based on a Women’s and Human’s right Perspective. debt. III. DCF.15 they have not been at the forefront of international initiatives on strengthening aid effectiveness.”18 Women’s groups have also supported the move to the DCF: “Women’s groups understand that norm-setting on aid and international cooperation issues cannot be removed from the larger global trade and finance system contexts. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and financial systems. as discussed above. 21. in spite of OECD efforts at liaison.”14 He further noted that “while approximately two thirds of contributors to South-South cooperation have signed the Paris Declaration. 16 Ibid Ref. and. women’s right organizations believe that such issues are best addressed within the UN. 17 Civil Society Benchmarks for the Doha Preparatory Process on Financing for Development. 13. favors neo-liberalism.contributing only marginally…[leaving] the Declaration without the approval of a conventional international multi-stakeholder process. The aid industry today (defined. The DCF under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Alternatives to a Market Led/Neo-liberal Development Model The debate on development paradigms and aid has.” ECOSOC Substantive Session of 2008. domestic resources and systemic issues.

How can development paradigms connect with the reality of what women’s organizations are doing on the ground? In other words. 1996.awid. available at www. 23 Deschamps. with an emphasis on Women’s Rights.22 An alternative to the neo-liberal economic agenda is possible.pambazuka.pdf Pambazuka News 394.24 Women’s rights and women’s empowerment groups can play a central role in shaping the model in crisis and with creativity build alternatives for the historically marginalized groups. therefore be re-shaped. Alexandrina. 21 20 5 . and now even the establishment is calling for that. What means development paradigm to you? Is there still place to talk about paradigms? Or the complexities of the XXI centuries call for another approach to build sustainable and inclusive development strategies? 2. one that is not based within a neo-liberal framework? If so. Economic.20 If developing nations are to own the process of 22 Ibid Ref 19. as always the risk of a top down un-consulted and non-participatory approach is high. how can we ensure that local actions/ideas/strategies/movements are properly translated into international development norm-setting? “Women’s Forum Statement: Recommendations for Action on Development Effectiveness in Accra and beyond”. A human rights approach (or a rights based approach) to development might be a good place to start. Key Questions to Get the Debate/Discussion Going 1. active and guiding role. There is room for change. Social and Cultural Rights. “Effectiveness of aid or ending aid dependence?” available at http://www. 24 A rights-based approach to development is a conceptual framework that is normatively based on international human rights standards and operationally directed to promoting and protecting human rights. “Women as center: The process of an alternative development paradigm for the Eastern Caribbean. can. they. a spectrum of political and economic options and experiments are tolerated”23 and the local is connected to the global. what does a feminist development paradigm or model look like? What does development from a gender equality perspective entail? What does a holistic development paradigm look like from your perspective? 3. Is there space for an alternative model of development. Development paradigms (even those that advocate deregulation and low levels of state intervention) are constructed through the selection (or refusal) of particular policy routes/ideological stances. as literature on development encourages.UN Declaration. decent work and the provision of social security.” University of Massachusetts Amherst. reconstructed. the poor majority are empowered and the basis for genuine democracy is built. While the specifics of a feminist development vision would vary depending on local's%20Forum%20Statement%20(FINAL)-1. indigenous culture and identity are revitalized. From the women’s movement we have to raise our voices… IV. the Right to Development. The world needs a new multilateralism. as well as the right to gender equality and the right not to be poor. then the conceptual reframing of the issues must take its lead from the South.21 Women’s groups have advocate for an international cooperation system that promotes democratic and sustainable agendas and supports the equitable distribution of productive resources. there may be some basic constituent elements: a paradigm in which “women play a central.

performed simultaneously by allied groups are feasible? What would the challenges be? What has been your experience related to the dichotomy protestadvocate (revolution versus change)? 8. How can we ensure that as an alternative model reacting to the current crisis will not be defined from the top? How can a new development paradigms or models involve the voices of women from local organizations and promote alliance building? 5. 6 . If you agree. or do we face the risk of producing yet another piece of paper? 10. Discuss. commitments and ethic in this area? Given our varied contexts and experiences. what would these elements be? 7. How do we work within a system that we are critical of without ourselves becoming oppressors or co-opted by the structures? Can we avoid co-optation? What kind of role plays identity. Do we have ideas on how to bring together a global network of feminist activists to formulate a coherent feminist development paradigm? Do you think another declaration or manifesto will make sense.”25 Do you agree? Or do you think it’s more plausible to work from with the structures we are trying to change? Or both. How can we dialogue/challenge and confront those that are not sensitive to our agenda? How can women’s organizations better reach out and work with other types of CSOs/social justice organizations/social movements? 25 Ibid Ref.4. While the specifics of a feminist development paradigm would vary depending on local realities. “My consideration of feminist alternatives to the current neo-liberal model of development will derive from this thesis of radical activism to effect fundamental changes rather than reformist conciliatory advocacy actions that do not challenge the status quo. how can we consolidate our different understandings of feminism and development? 9.12. perhaps there may be some basic constituent elements. Are there any innovative development practices in your country/region that you would like to share? 6.

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