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UNRISD Prepares Research-based Policy Report on Gender and Development

24 May 2004



UNRISD Prepares Research-based Policy Report on Gender and Development

To complement the ten-year review of the Platform for Action of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, the Institute launched an ambitious project involving over 70 researchers from diverse regions, and commissioned over 60 background papers to examine some of the most serious and controversial issues that currently preoccupy a wide range of actors and thinkers in the field of gender and development. The research findings will be synthesized in a flagship Report on Gender and Development. The research-based policy report will be officially launched in New York in March 2005 at the 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. This event will be followed by a series of regional launches around the world.

Designed to shed light on some of the critical policy issues highlighted in the Beijing Platform for Action, the report is the Institute’s contribution to the "Beijing Plus Ten" assessment.

The struggle for gender equality and women’s rights in the last decade constituted a significant conjuncture marked by the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe, the transition from authoritarian regimes in many parts of Latin America and Africa, supportive administrations in power in industrialized countries, and broader shifts in the international policy agenda underlining the significance of democracy and rights for the development process. Progress at the national level was also facilitated by a series of major UN conferences where, despite persistent opposition from conservative forces, women’s rights advocates were able to make a significant impact on the emerging policy documents.

The Beijing Platform for Action has now been approved by a majority of states. In many countries new laws give recognition to women’s rights in critical areas such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence, and reproductive rights. However success on this front has not been matched by an improvement in the quality of life of the majority and in the achievement of greater social justice. Conservative forces and coalitions, the world over, continue to challenge international human rights norms and standards pertaining to women's rights and human rights agendas are weakened by the current global crisis occasioned by terrorism, militarism and war. Gains made in women’s rights remain as fragile as the democratic institutions and procedures that should give them legitimacy and protection.

The UNRISD report is set to examine the following four broad areas of institutional and policy reform.

The changing political economy of development: This section will take stock of what is known to date regarding the gender implications and impacts of different economic policy regimes and specific policy components, and, on that basis, will draw some lessons for policy formulation. It will trace and explain the substantial changes in the nature of "development policy", from a Keynesian-type managed approach to one focusing on structural adjustment and then to a more full-blown neoliberal approach, and evaluate the results of the changing policy regimes and development strategies from a gender perspective.

Livelihoods, entitlements and social policy: This section will provide an analysis of how and why the liberalization agenda has taken root in different regions and how its different elements have evolved since the early 1980s. To provide a grounded analysis of how liberalization policies are shaping people's well-being and security in gender differentiated ways, it will focus on the changing nature of labour markets as well as men's and women's access to critical assets, welfare services (especially health and education, care), state transfers (pensions, family allowances), and remittances from migrants.

Governance, democratization and civil society: One of the distinct and positive features of the last two decades has been women's greater political visibility—as individuals and as a social group—in both formal political institutions and in civil society. This section of the report will examine some of the complex issues raised with respect to women's political mobilization (and their capacity to politicize issues of concern to them), their representation in political institutions, and their effectiveness in triggering better responsiveness and accountability from decision makers at different levels.

Armed conflict, violence and social change: This section of the report will reflect on issues of violence and insecurity in the context of militarism and war from a gender perspective. It will examine in particular the extent to which women have been able to articulate and promote their interests in post-conflict processes of reconstruction, governance reform and justice, and how abuses of women's rights in the context of armed conflict have provided a platform for women's rights advocates and their allies to bring about international legal and institutional changes.


Funding:
This activity is being funded by the European Union, the Government of Sweden (Sida/SAREC), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Government of the Netherlands.

Further Information on the Project:
For information about the project, contact Caroline Danloy, Associate Information Officer, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland; fax (41 22) 917 0650; danloy@unrisd.org

Media Requests:
Advance copies of the UNRISD Report on Gender and Development will be made available by mid-February 2005. To obtain a copy write to Sylvie B. Liu, Dissemination Assistant, at liu@unrisd.org. All other media requests must be forwarded to Nicolas Bovay, Information Officer, at bovay@unrisd.org, or to Caroline Danloy, Associate Information Officer at danloy@unrisd.org