Gender and Development

Gender and Development (GAD) – refers to the development perspective and process that is participatory and empowering, equitable, sustainable, free from violence, respectful of human rights, supportive of self-determination and actualization of human potentials. It seeks to achieve gender equality as a fundamental value that should be reflected in development choices and contends that women are active agents of development, not just passive recipients of development.

The history of this field dates back to the 1950s, when studies of economic development first brought women into its discourse, focusing on women only as subjects of welfare policies – notably those centered on food aid and family planning. The focus of women in development increased throughout the decade, and by 1962, the United Nations General Assembly called for the Commission on the Status of Women to collaborate with the Secretary General and a number of other UN sectors to develop a longstanding program dedicated to women’s advancement in developing countries. A decade later, feminist economist Ester Boserup’s pioneering book Women’s Role in Economic Development (1970) was published, radically shifting perspectives of development and contributing to the birth of what eventually became the gender and development field.

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