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Gender Programme Moving Full Steam Ahead

9 Apr 2015


Gender Programme Moving Full Steam Ahead
The Gender and Development Research Programme at UNRISD is moving forward with a dynamic new team!

UNRISD has launched a new Think Pieces Series, "Let’s Talk about Women’s Rights", to mark the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action. We asked feminist scholars and activists from around the world to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the past two decades. They have responded with critical views on themes such as poverty, war and peace, international law, gender norms and employment, from different geographical locations and different perspectives. More think pieces are on their way in the coming months. Join the conversation!

The key role of women’s movements in achieving Beijing’s progressive agenda has been highlighted time and again in recent UNRISD work on gender and development. From the challenges young feminist movements face to the diversity of women’s movements in India and importance of forging alliances among women’s organizations in Indonesia, it is clear that gender-egalitarian change will not take place without strong mobilization by women.

This was precisely the theme of the side event we organized in New York during the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, in collaboration with the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Presenting findings from UNRISD’s research project When and Why Do States Respond to Women’s Claims?, speakers focused on the conditions in which women’s movements can effectively make their claims heard. Topics discussed included the tensions between autonomy and coalition-forging, professionalization and (de)politicization, urban and rural feminists, different levels of engagement—local, national and international—and which issues get on policy agendas and which do not. These issues resonated with the audience: we had a full house. For those of you who could not attend, catch up by listening to the podcast. A video will be available soon.

In the same vein, Gita Sen’s seminar, Reinventing Social Contracts: Feminists, Rights and Power, held in Geneva in conjunction with the UNOG Library, was a reflection on the last 30 years of women’s mobilization "in a fierce new world" from the perspective of DAWN. Gita stressed that gender-unequal power relations are not independent of other systems of power, and that social development requires that everybody is able to exercise her or his rights. She also insisted on the need to see women’s identities as multiple, and to break down policy silos. The seminar was based on Gita’s new book, co-edited with Marina Durano.

As UNRISD moves ahead in defining its future research agenda, the Gender and Development Research Programme is also making strides. We build on our strong tradition of inquiry into the conditions of rural women as we partner with the University of Bern on the Feminization, Agricultural Transition and Rural Employment (FATE) project, and we continue UNRISD’s path-breaking work on care, contributing to the advancement of feminist care agendas and debates (as in Latin America). We are currently working to raise support for new work on women in violent urban contexts: violence against women is not independent of other forms of violence, and violent urban contexts are also characterized by unequal gender relations more broadly. Last but not least we continue our work on the political economy of feminist macroeconomics: how structural economic conditions hinder (or contribute to) women’s economic empowerment.