1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - Gender

  • Why Intersectionality is Critical for UNRISD's Work (28 Jun 2021) | Carolyn H. Williams, Francisco Cos-Montiel
    UNRISD has launched its new Institutional Strategy focused on inequalities, and the Institute intends to apply an intersectional approach across all of its research programmes. Read on to find out why intersectionality is so important to UNRISD’s mission.
  • Achieving an Equal Future: Above All, Transforming Mindsets and Behaviours (7 Mar 2021) | Francisco Cos-Montiel
    In his blog for International Women’s Day 2021, Francisco Cos-Montiel argues that well-designed quotas are key to progress in women's political participation. When we think of women’s leadership, however, equally essential—but also slower and more complex—is social transformation that breaks through cultural barriers to gender equality and justice.
  • Gender Justice in Development: UNRISD’s Contribution to the Global Project of Gender Equality (16 Dec 2020) | Francisco Cos-Montiel
    UNRISD is pleased to announce the relaunch of its gender research programme with a new name—Gender Justice and Development—and new thinking under the leadership of Francisco Cos-Montiel, who recently joined UNRISD. In this blog Francisco sets out what directions the programme will be taking.
  • Rights Through Representation: How UNRISD Research is Contributing to LGBTQI+ Inclusion in Politics (16 Dec 2020) | Maggie Carter
    LGBTQI+ exclusion is not a new story. From public restrooms to houses of congress, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons to be seen and heard have long been questioned and denied. Ensuring the inclusion of LGBTQI+ voices in all aspects of life, but particularly political decision making, is essential to achieving the rights and protection of LGBTQI+ people the world over. On the occasion of the publication of the major research outputs of the project VoiceIt: Strengthening LGBTQI+ Voices in Politics, in which UNRISD is a partner, this blog gives a brief overview of UN engagement with the issue so far and sets out how this research-action project is contributing to LGBTQI+ inclusion in politics.
  • COVID-19 Sends the Care Economy Deeper into Crisis Mode (4 May 2020) | Silke Staab
    The COVID-19 crisis puts the fragility of the care economy into sharp relief. Women comprise 70% of health workers globally and even higher shares of care-related occupations such as nursing, midwifery and community health work, which all require close contact with patients. The risks these front-line workers take to save lives are compounded by poor working conditions, low pay and lack of voice in health systems where medical leadership is largely controlled by men.
  • Surging or Subsiding? How Mining Sector Booms Impact Female Empowerment (4 May 2020) | Audrey Au Yong Lyn
    Mexico experienced a major mining boom as a result of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, which produced sharp increases in the prices of precious metals mined in Mexico such as gold and silver. Mining is a male-dominated profession, so what happened to female welfare during the boom? This think piece discusses the results of a study of data from mining communities in Mexico before and during the boom on two significant determinants of female empowerment, namely intra-household decision making and intimate partner violence.
  • A Feminist Interrogation of Autonomy on the Internet (6 Apr 2018) | Jac sm Kee
    In today’s increasingly digital, networked society, there is a pressing need for a feminist interrogation of the melding of new technology with personal, social, cultural, economic and political life, and the power structures that are reproduced and redefined in the process. In particular, this Think Piece points a critical lens at questions of autonomy on the internet and in an age of big data, asking how these technologies can empower women and queer persons to fully exercise and enjoy their rights, both on- and offline.
  • War, Gender and Economics: Women at the Sharp End of Neo-liberal Reforms in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina (8 Jan 2018) | Nela Porobić Isaković
    In 2014, political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) adopted a socio-economic Reform Agenda, in a context of social unrest as well as preparations to pave the way to EU accession. This think piece argues that the Reform Agenda, based on neoliberal solutions such as austerity measures and stabilization policies, and lacking a rigorous feminist conflict and gender analysis, will fail to create a firm foundation on which a sustainable and just transition from conflict to peace can be made.
  • Carving Out an Official Role for Waste Pickers in Urban Waste Management (5 Dec 2017) | V. Kalyan Shankar, Rohini Sahni
    Waste pickers are key stakeholders in sustainable urban waste management, thereby contributing to local and global resilience. As recycling of materials has become more widespread in developed and developing countries, it has provided waste pickers with an opportunity to improve their status and well-being through collectivization and engagement with local urban government. This think piece explores how waste pickers in the Indian city of Pune have been able to organize and legitimize their labour and carve out a formal space for themselves in the city's waste management chain.
  • Let Them Eat Entrepreneurship: Women's Empowerment and Gender Inequality (5 Oct 2017) | Manuel Montes
    In many countries, women are heavily discriminated against in the ownership of economic assets and access to finance. To counter this, rich countries are contributing enormous sums to a major new World Bank intitiative promoting women's entrepreneurship in developing countries. This blog asks though where discrimination against women really begins and whether financing women’s entrepreneurship is the right entry point to empower women in developing countries.
  • From the Concrete Wall to the Glass Ceiling to the Labyrinth: Gendering Leadership for Transformative Change (28 Mar 2017) | Luisa Lupo
    Figures suggest that the gender gap in education has been reversed in almost all developed countries as well as many developing countries, and it could be globally reduced to parity within the next 10 years on current trends. Yet, women lag behind men when it comes to economic opportunities and political representation, particularly in leadership positions. This blog explores the transformative potential of policies with a gender-based approach to leadership.
  • International Women’s Day 2017: How Bold is Bold? (8 Mar 2017) | Paul Ladd
    International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time to recognize the tremendous progress made in the last century on women’s rights. But in all fields, and in all parts of the world, women and girls still face daily discrimination, stereotypes, verbal abuse and often violence. UNRISD Director Paul Ladd reflects on how to boldly go forward in today's context and political climate.
  • Up and Down the Political Agenda: Pathways to Transformative Care Policies (2 Aug 2016) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
    What do preschool childcare, safe water and paternity leave have in common? All of them can contribute to achieving Target 5.4 in the SDGs on unpaid care. Find out where UNRISD research has discovered transformative care policies and effective strategies for getting these policies put into place.
  • Are the Sustainable Development Goals Good News for Women? (7 Mar 2016) | Valeria Esquivel, Caroline Sweetman
    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in September 2015, marked a historic moment for development—and for feminism, according a range of prominent women's rights activists and advocates involved in the creation of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. What needs to be done to ensure that SDGs deliver on their promise for people living in poverty and for women in particular? Valeria Esquivel and Caroline Sweetman introduce some of the analysis in the latest issue of the Gender & Development journal.
  • Making Women’s Rights a Reality in Africa (2 Feb 2016) | Paola Cagna
    Over the last 10 days, men and women leaders came together at the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa to discuss, among other topics, how African countries can realize human rights, especially women’s rights. Fortunately, there is no lack of ideas, and evidence supporting those ideas, on how to make women’s rights a reality in Africa and elsewhere. This blog suggests four ideas just for a start.
  • Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Taking Stock of Progress on Gender Equality since the Beijing Platform for Action (26 Nov 2015) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
    The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action marked an important moment for gender equality. However, in the decades since then the achievements are under threat or may even be rolled back. The concluding piece in the UNRISD Think Piece Series “Let’s Talk about Women’s Rights: 20 Years after the Beijing Platform for Action” brings together some of the main strands of argument covered by 16 feminist thinkers reflecting on the advancements and challenges in gender equality since 1995. Although there have been some successes—the creation and improvement of legal frameworks for the defence of women’s rights, and progress in efforts to combat violence against women—there are still impediments: rigid gender stereotypes in society and institutions, a lack of funding for activism, and conservative forces coupled with a lack of political will to work for further progress. The need to realize women’s rights is now more urgent than ever.
  • Revenue Mobilization for Gender Equity (11 Sep 2015) | Caren Grown and Sudarshan Gooptu
    One factor contributing to slow progress in closing gender gaps is insufficient resources to implement promising policy initiatives. Governments mobilize resources for gender equality from multiple sources, including taxes, overseas development assistance (ODA) and through public-private partnerships. This think piece reviews progress in mobilizing revenue for gender equality from these various sources and provides some overarching suggestions for mobilizing more resources and making existing ones more gender equitable.
  • Shifting Responsibilities without Changing the Balance of Power: What Chance of Equality with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda? (11 Sep 2015) | Nicole Bidegain Ponte, Marina Durano and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez
    The global development financing framework has shifted in emphasis since the 2002 Monterrey Consensus in three ways. First, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third Conference on Financing for Development moves away from a more balanced sharing of responsibilities between developed and developing countries in the international financial architecture. Second, the document reflects a clear endorsement of the private sector as a privileged development actor. Third, the AAAA takes an instrumentalist view of women’s human rights. As a result, the Conference failed to remove global obstacles to development and to provide the structural conditions and means to move toward sustainable and equitable development patterns and the full realization of human rights, particularly women’s rights. However, the AAAA offers possibilities for continued engagement through the establishment of an FfD follow-up mechanism as a space to redefine the balance of power and negotiate proposals to overcome the regressive trends and reshape the agenda.
  • The CEDAW Committee 20 Years after Beijing: Progress in the Defence of Women’s Rights and Pending Challenges (3 Jul 2015) | Gladys Acosta Vargas
    CEDAW inspired the Beijing Platform for Action. The combination of CEDAW as a binding instrument and the political agreement made in Beijing together created better conditions for confronting gender-based discrimination. CEDAW considers justice a key element for the protection of human rights. It is now essential to press for compliance with the standards for access to justice. A key objective for coming decades is to build a vision for improving women’s access to justice in all spheres of social life. The UN can be a determining factor at the national, regional and international levels, but only if all of its parts are engaged in common dialogue with each other, with State Parties, and together with social movements and civil society. The CEDAW Committee has played a leading role in educating the international community about the grave consequences of all forms of gender-based discrimination.
  • The New Cold War on Women’s Rights? (22 Jun 2015) | Anne Marie Goetz
    The United Nations is a crucial arena in which to set universal standards on women’s rights. But in recent meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women an increasingly coordinated misogynist backlash has been building unconventional alliances that transcend familiar geopolitical divisions and draw on the resources of religious organizations. States that have in the past been seen as defenders of women’s rights are losing ground in negotiations. There is a growing reluctance to expend political capital in defense of what has been constructed and maligned as a western social preoccupation. Transnational feminist networks have been deprived of opportunities to revive their networks and effectiveness in the absence of the expected fifth world conference on women this year. Feminist movements in emerging economies now have a crucial role to play in demonstrating that feminism is not limited to the West, and in influencing their national foreign policy establishments to defend women’s rights in multilateral agreements.
  • Eliminating Sex Discrimination at Work: Recent Court Decisions since Beijing+20 (26 May 2015) | Jane Hodges
    A fresh way of assessing outcomes of Section F. of the Beijing Platform for Action on Women and the economy is to track how national judicial systems are enforcing the new generation of labour laws, not only labour courts and employment tribunals but also the highest domestic judicial authorities in the form of Supreme or Constitutional Courts. This think piece asks: How have courts reacted to the profound changes of the past years concerning sex discrimination at work? Are complaints being lodged relating to one particular area of employment discrimination law? Have courts received challenges to austerity programmes—a marked characteristic of state responses to the financial and economic crisis of the late 2000s—and have their decisions strengthened or weakened worker rights to gender equality? Are international labour standards (ILS) informing judges as they assess the facts and evidence within domestic legal frameworks? And if so, which ILS influence the final outcome? What can be done to improve matters in the future?
  • 20 Years of Shamefully Scarce Funding for Feminists and Women’s Rights Movements (13 May 2015) | Lydia Alpízar Durán
    For decades, the women’s rights movement and women’s rights organizations have been severely underfunded. AWID research in 2010 revealed that the median budget for 740 women’s organizations all over the globe was a miserly US$20,000. In the same year, as a point of reference, the income for Save the Children International and World Vision International was US$1.442 billion and US$2.611 billion respectively. This is in spite of recent research which proves what feminists and activists have known for a long time—that women’s movements have been the key drivers defending women’s human rights and gender justice worldwide. As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference this year, creates the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and holds the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, it is critical to remember that real systemic impact for women’s rights needs significant resources.
  • Twenty Years after Beijing: Time to Re-evaluate Policy Engagements with the State? (7 May 2015) | Kalyani Menon-Sen
    Two decades after Beijing, the Indian balance sheet on feminist efforts at policy influencing is blotched with red. Gains on the social policy front have more often than not been neutralized by economic policies. Past advances are being rolled back as the government moves to insulate policy-making from public scrutiny. Is it time for feminists to walk away from the policy table and join the struggles and movements that are challenging neoliberalism on the streets?
  • Collective empowerment? Producer cooperatives versus women’s groups in Kenyan ethical trade (29 Apr 2015) | Kiah Smith
    Part of the rationale behind fair and ethical trade is to improve the economic empowerment of smallholder farmers in the South, but also contribute to environmental sustainability, more equitable trading and decision-making relationships, and often, gender equality. However, the extent to which women’s participation in particular schemes contributes to their empowerment is highly variable. This think piece considers in particular the extent to which women’s empowerment is enhanced or reduced through their participation in ethical and fair trade decision-making structures, such as producer cooperatives, as well as other collective strategies, such as women’s groups.
  • Ending Violence Against Women: Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Marai Larasi
    The Beijing Platform for Action called on it signatories to take action in twelve critical areas of concern, including violence against women (VAW). In the 20 years since, we have seen shifts in how the issue is understood, described and addressed. As in other aspects of work around equality for women and girls, we have made progress and we have also experienced setbacks; and in many ways, the feminist thinking that was so critical to the Beijing process has been both mainstreamed and marginalized. While the landscape has changed in various ways, violence against women, and against girls, has remained both pervasive and persistent. This paper offers a brief reflection on where we are today with respect to the commitments made in 1995, acknowledging that while there have been advances, we have yet to come close to achieving the vision that was so clearly articulated in Beijing.
  • Gender Praxis in Emergencies: 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Anu Pillay
    This think piece offers a brief scan of the humanitarian response environment since the Beijing conference of 1995, within which gender practitioners have been striving to integrate gender concerns. It succinctly reviews the background against which gender mainstreaming entered the humanitarian sector, bringing with it the promise to integrate and mainstream gender concerns into the response to emergencies created by armed conflict or natural disasters. However, looking back on the past 20 years, it shows how gender mainstreaming has emerged as a strategy which is sometimes practiced in a way that is counter-productive to its goal of transforming gender inequality. It takes a look at the way that gender transformative issues of voice, choice, safety and accountability seem to be stuck in the humanitarian-development divide and how resilience is being viewed as the ‘new kid on the block’ which will bridge that divide. The author asks whether gender praxis, as the embodiment of a commitment to human well-being, could be employed to interrogate the relationship between the vision of gender equality and the strategy for its achievement, and whether gender could be flagged as the unifying factor that already straddles the humanitarian-development divide?
  • How Feminist Activism Can Make States More Accountable for Women’s Rights (31 Mar 2015) | Andrea Cornwall, Jenny Edwards
    Despite the gains made on women’s rights since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, we still have a long way to go in terms of enjoying a gender-equal world. We also need to be vigilant against sliding back on progress already made. This article recognizes the crucial role women’s organizing plays in holding states to account on obligations made under international agreements. Drawing on examples from Brazil and Egypt from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme, the article demonstrates the contribution of women’s organizing to: mobilizing around injustice, harnessing the power of ratified agreements to bring about change in legislation, working on the design of progressive laws, and then ensuring the laws are effectively implemented. In order to be truly successful, however, women’s organizing needs to be matched by responsive, effective government. It is only when citizen voice works in unison with the state that commitments made on women’s rights can be comprehensively achieved.
  • Achievements and Challenges in Gender Equality in International Human Rights Law: The Last Twenty Years (24 Mar 2015) | Fareda Banda
    20 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing in 1995, what has changed for women in the human rights field? There have been many changes in law and policy post-Beijing. Human rights treaty bodies including the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), have reinforced the message that states have an obligation to both pass laws and ensure compliance. Furthermore, they have noted that states have duties to challenge negative attitudes towards women which are based on gender stereotyping. International and regional courts have taken a more gender-sensitive approach in addressing gender stereotypes especially with respect to violence against women. Given the controversy surrounding the conceptualization of the term gender at the 1995 conference, the paper concludes by arguing for a more comprehensive reading of the term that embraces gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • 20 Years of Mobilization: The Role of Young Feminists (16 Mar 2015) | Ruby Johnson
    Young women and girls continue to experience rights violations in their daily lives such as sexual- and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, discrimination and limited access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Approaching Beijing+20, we arrive at an important juncture, a moment to reflect on achievements to date and challenges ahead. Operating in volatile and resource-constrained environments, young feminists are organizing collectively, facing backlash and barriers within their communities, societies and their own movements. The mobilization, the courage and the experience of this generation have an important role to play in redefining a just development and human rights agenda ahead. Coming from diverse movements and contexts, and using art, technology and sport as key tactics in their work, their contributions can make development more responsive, grounded and sustainable. Let us collectively re-imagine how we work together across generations and movements, and leverage both our critical mass and the technology available to hold all actors accountable.
  • Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: A View from Switzerland (9 Mar 2015) | Flurina Derungs, Ursula Keller
    Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest countries and most modern economies, in Switzerland gender equality remains an elusive challenge. Paid maternity leave, legal abortion and an increase in women’s educational attainment are some of the milestones achieved since 1995. But while legal gender equality may be nearly achieved, much remains to be done to achieve gender equality in practice. Rigid gender stereotypes, wage discrimination, women’s heavy care burden, segregation in the workplace, violence against women, under-representation of women in political and economic decision making, and structural obstacles to reconciling family duties with employment still stand in the way of gender equality.
  • Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: An African Perspective (2 Mar 2015) | Faiza Jama Mohamed
    Twenty years have passed since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), a comprehensive roadmap to advance women's rights and achieve gender equality. This piece will reflect upon achievements made but also persisting challenges to the successful implementation of the BPfA within the African context, ahead of the review process in March 2015. Discussed in detail are the issues of sexual violence, women's political participation, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), education and maternal health. Additionally, this piece discusses the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and successful regional strategies pursued by the Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition that have helped to push for particular achievements pertaining to women's rights, especially at the African Union level.
  • Gender Norms: Are they the Enemy of Women’s Rights? (2 Mar 2015) | Raewyn Connell, Rebecca Pearse
    Gender norms do not float freely; nor are they static. Gender norms are part of the weave of social life, embedded in institutions as well as individual lives. Change in gender norms can come from many sources. Norms of gender inequality have proved difficult to shift. But norms of gender equality also exist; and social research shows that new possibilities for change open up all the time.
  • The ‘Feminization of Poverty’: A Reflection 20 Years After Beijing (2 Mar 2015) | Sylvia Chant
    This think piece interrogates the conceptual and empirical currency of a ‘feminization of poverty’ which effectively assumed the status of ‘global orthodoxy’ at the Fourth Women’s World Conference in Beijing in 1995, when it was proclaimed that 70% of the world’s poor were women, and that this figure was rising. Although evidence to substantiate these assertions remains wanting, the ‘feminization of poverty’ meme has been remarkably enduring. Aside from a lack of robust data which points to increased poverty among women relative to men in the past twenty years, I contend that there are problems with the implicit focus on income poverty to the exclusion of other privations, and with the more explicit aligning of the ‘feminization of poverty’ with the ‘feminization’ of household headship. This article offers thoughts on how to enrich the ‘feminization of poverty’ construct with attention to evidence for a ‘feminization of responsibility and/or obligation’. It also supports the wider range of gender targets and indicators anticipated for the post-2015 agenda as a basis for addressing the ‘feminization of poverty’, broadly defined.
  • Why Does the Security Council Have Few Teeth? A Reflection on Women and Armed Conflict 20 years after Beijing 1995 (2 Mar 2015) | Donna Pankhurst
    The Beijing Declaration was key to establishing a series of momentous UN Security Council Resolutions on women in wartime, including the declaration of rape as a war crime. Much money and effort has gone into implementing elements of the Resolutions but women still tend to remain marginalised, if not completely excluded from peace talks and levels of violence, particularly sexual violence, still remain very high in some contemporary wars. I suggest that this is not surprising because attention has not been focused in the right place. Until we understand why some (not all) men choose to commit such violent acts against women, during and after wars, we are unlikely to curb or prevent this violence. Until there is a serious commitment to working alongside local women in genuine partnership during peace-keeping and peace-building endeavours, the UN Security Council Resolutions are likely to remain fundamentally flawed.
  • Women, War and Peace in Africa: A Reflection on the Past 20 Years (2 Mar 2015) | Meredeth Turshen
    This contribution takes the analysis of wartime violence against women out of an individualized context and puts it into the realm of war economies, which are highly criminalized and globalized. Yes, wartime rape was long a neglected topic deserving of our attention. But the protracted wars on the African continent have created a “durable disorder”, wrenching women, children and men from their everyday productive activities, rites and celebrations and pitching them into states of violent turmoil, confused movement, precarious existence and deep grief unrelieved by the normal symbols of mourning. These wars, which include lengthy and intermittent civil strife, ethnic and communal violence, disruptive political discord, internal disturbances, states of emergency and suppression of mass uprisings, occur under global neoliberal regimes in an environment of the so-called war on terror. Their impact on women’s security deserves an expanded feminist analysis that reaches beyond interpersonal violence to encompass the political economy of the “new wars”.
  • All that glitters...why growth and development aren't the same thing (3 Dec 2014) | Esuna Dugarova
    UNRISD researcher Esuna Dugarova published the following article on the importance of social policy in the post-2015 development agenda on the Guardian's Global Development Professional Network pages, which we reproduce here in full.
  • Influencing Policy for Gender Justice: The Role of International Non-Governmental Organizations (28 Oct 2014) | Ines Smyth
    A supportive, progressive and policy environment is crucial to promote women’s rights. International non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have a variety of resources to help create such an environment, such as finances, skills, technology and personnel, reach with policy makers and the public, and recognition. This think piece explores the role that INGOs can play on national and international policy levels via the example of Oxfam’s work on gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW).
  • African Mining, Gender and Local Employment (10 Oct 2014) | Anja Tolonen
    Large scale mining operations have been accused of being economically isolated enclaves, with few positive benefits to nearby communities. In addition, it has been argued that extractive industries hinder women’s labour market participation by increasing reservation wages (the lowest wage rate at which a worker is willing to accept a job) and decreasing demand for female labour, thus reinforcing gender inequality. This think piece builds upon original research performing the first cross-national study using micro-data testing these important hypotheses. We treat mine openings and mine closings in sub-Saharan Africa as natural experiments to explore local labour market changes. We partly refute and partly confirm the above arguments. Industrial mines generate local structural shifts. Subsistence farming becomes less important for both men and women: men shift to skilled manual labour, and women shift to service sector jobs or leave the labour market. The effects are not persistent and mining risks creating local ‘boom-bust’ economies.
  • Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective (15 Sep 2014) | Lucie Lamarche
    The twentieth century witnessed the development of national social security and social protection mechanisms aimed at providing economic, social and public answers to address social risks. In the logic of the majority of these mechanisms, however, unless women were formally employed or were widows, they were not rights holders in any meaningful sense independent of male relatives and/or their families. This think piece argues that ILO standards on social protection capture this discriminatory dynamic and that the Organization's heritage constitutes a significant obstacle to the en-gendering of the right to social security.
  • Do social protection programmes that impose conditionalities on women fail to confront patriarchy as a root cause of inequality? (8 Sep 2014) | Sophie Plagerson
    The journey towards gender equality is both personal and political, and cuts across relationships and institutions. Interactions with institutions responsible for social protection cannot but be intricate and multi-layered. Yet, addressing whether social protection programmes that impose conditionalities on women fail to confront patriarchy and hamper women’s right to equality is urgent and imperative. It is argued in this paper that social protection programmes with conditionalities have confronted gender inequalities in some dimensions but not in others.
  • Conditionalities, Cash and Gender Relations (1 May 2014) | Maxine Molyneux
    Is the empowerment of women through conditional cash transfers illusory? It is important to distinguish between the positive effects of conditional cash transfers and ‘empowerment’ as well as between different degrees of empowerment. But to effectively and sustainably tackle women's poverty and vulnerability we must support women’s capabilities and income-generating capacities, and understand the gender dynamics within households. Only then can we speak of cash transfers leading to meaningful empowerment for women.
  • Improving Representation in the Design and Implementation of Social Protection Programmes through Women’s Organizations (25 Apr 2014) | Markus Kaltenborn
    Due to the high relevance of women's participation for the success of social protection programmes, the author of this piece argues that it is necessary to give at least the most important women’s organizations of a country a statutory right to take part in the respective processes of legislation and implementation. The commentary then considers the best way to go about this.
  • Transformative Approaches to Care Responsibilities: Overcoming Obstacles to the Meaningful Participation of Women (10 Apr 2014) | Valeria Esquivel
    One way to approach care in a transformative way is moving beyond seeing care responsibilities as an impediment to women’s participation, and start seeing them as a missing component of social protection, and as an opportunity for political participation. At the same time, families’ and women’s demands for care need be articulated in political terms, a challenge in highly unequal contexts.
  • A Human Rights-Based Approach to Social Protection and the Gender Perspective (31 Mar 2014) | Daniel Seymour
    Social protection systems which hope to be successful need to take gender equality into account. This think piece considers three related aspects. First, a human rights perspective on social protection needs to contextualize social protection mechanisms as part of a broader effort to change the way societies function. Second, a gender perspective on social protection is about the gendered dynamics of a society, not only about the role of women. Lastly, a gender perspective on social protection needs to be informed by the real circumstances of human beings, who are defined by more than merely their gender and sex.
  • Good Practices for Effective Participation in Social Protection Design and Implementation (27 Mar 2014) | Robert Chambers
    The tendency for programmes intended for those who are poor and marginalized to be distorted and captured by local elites is widely recognised. For programmes of social protection, participation is an obvious prescription to overcome this elite capture but is far from a magic wand. Who participates? Participation can itself be captured to become an instrument for exclusion of those who are meant to benefit, How effective participatory processes can be in overcoming these tendencies, and what processes can be recommended, will always depend on local context. There is, though, experience of a repertoire or menu of approaches that can be drawn upon, adapted and evolved to fit.
  • Message from the Director, Sarah Cook: New Year’s Greetings from Geneva, and Welcome to the First UNRISD E-Bulletin of 2014 (28 Jan 2014) | Sarah Cook
    UNRISD enters 2014 with a renewed sense of purpose and energy that comes from having celebrated its ...
  • Kenyan Businesswomen Transforming Slum Economies through Complementary Currencies (24 Jul 2013) | Morgan Richards, William Ruddick
    Are complementary currencies the next step in building the Social and Solidarity Economy and could Kenyan women be demonstrating a new development model for a failing global monetary system? This think-piece examines the case of the Bangladesh community, an informal settlement in Kenya, using a complementary currency system which enables female business owners to build resilience, avoid economic downturns and juggle family care and business profits. After promising initial outcomes, the Central Bank of Kenya initiated charges for forgery in May 2013.
  • Social and Solidarity Economy: A Pathway to Socially Sustainable Development? (29 Apr 2013) | Peter Utting
    As the international community attempts to tackle a complex set of twenty-first century development challenges, attention has focused on the possibilities of more integrated models of development. This think piece argues that both the concept of sustainable development (centred on economic growth, and social and environmental protection) and the classic model of what can be termed “embedded liberalism” (centred on the welfare state and the decent work enterprise), are found wanting from the perspective of integrative development. In today’s world five key dimensions need to be addressed simultaneously: economic development, social protection, environmental protection, gender equality and sociopolitical empowerment. The field of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) seems to have considerable potential in this regard. Can that potential be realized?
  • Can Female Entrepreneurship Programmes Support Social and Solidarity Economy? Insights from China and India (26 Mar 2013) | Tonia Warnecke
    Increases in overall female entrepreneurship do not guarantee improvements in women’s socioeconomic status; much depends on whether the entrepreneurship is based on opportunity or necessity. In countries like China and India, women tend to be necessity entrepreneurs in the informal sector, with lower income and little potential for career advancement. While these countries have devoted significant resources toward programmes aiming to increase female entrepreneurship, not all of these programmes support opportunity entrepreneurship. An even larger question is whether these programmes support or challenge Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). In addition to solidarity microfinance schemes around the world, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) programmes in India show that entrepreneurship programmes can support individual development while also fostering community solidarity and democratization of the economy.
  • Solidarity Economy Initiatives from the Ground Up: What can we Learn from the Women Home-based Workers of Southeast Asia? (11 Mar 2013) | Rosalinda Pineda Ofreneo
    What can the most invisible and marginalized of women workers contribute to the discourse on solidarity economy based on their concrete experiences over time? This question acquires significance in the light of the combined financial, economic, and environmental crises coupled with the increasing incidence of disasters in Southeast Asia. These have led to massive job losses in many parts of the subregion. In response to these events, home-based workers’ organizations and networks have risen to the challenge by developing solidarity economy initiatives, with varying results, potential and limitations based on specific national and local contexts.
  • Gender in the Green Economy (15 Jun 2012) | Candice Stevens
    In the absence of appropriate social policies, the green economy may exacerbate existing gender inequities to the detriment of overall sustainability. As workers, women are being excluded from the green economy due to gender-segregated employment patterns and discrimination. As consumers, women are more likely than men to buy eco-friendly products but they have limited purchasing power. As citizens, women are crucial to good governance in the green economy but have little influence because very few women hold management positions in both public and private sectors. The author suggests policies that would assure a fuller role for women, including putting female empowerment at the centre of development assistance programmes that aim to promote the green economy in developing countries; mandating business to adopt family-friendly practices to increase women’s participation in green jobs; giving women special skills training to work in the green economy; and enacting quotas to get more women onto corporate boards and in top-level management positions in industry and government to increase their influence over the shape of the green economy.
  • Gender Equality as Key in Defining Human Well-Being and Enhancing Sustainable Development (30 Mar 2012) | Gerd Johnsson-Latham
    The predominant discourse on sustainable development focuses mainly on ecology and economics, not taking into account social dimensions of well-being and gender-based inequalities. This think piece emphasizes the importance of incorporating gender dimensions into the discourse on sustainable development to improve human well-being.
  • World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development - An Opportunity Both Welcome and Missed (7 Oct 2011) | Shahra Razavi
    That the World Bank has devoted its 2012 flagship publication to the topic of gender equality is a welcome opportunity for widening the intellectual space. However, it is also a missed opportunity. By failing to engage seriously with the gender biases of macroeconomic policy agendas that define contemporary globalization, and by reducing social policy to a narrow focus on conditional cash transfers, the report is unable to provide a credible and even-handed analysis of the challenges that confront gender equality in the 21st century and appropriate policy responses for creating more equal societies.
  • Will Democracy spell the end for Tunisian women? (18 May 2011) | Kristine Goulding
    Falling tyrants and rising freedoms have been a recurrent theme of the Arab Spring. Invariably, in every discussion of democratization in the Middle East, the question of women crops up. The key conundrum: will democracy be good for women’s rights?
  • UN Special, International Women's Day Issue: UNRISD Weighs in on Gender (16 Mar 2011) | Shahra Razavi
    UNRISD Researcher Shahra Razavi comments on the role of the newly formed UN Women and on gender parity within UNRISD on the occasion of International Women's Day for the March 2011 No. 704 issue of the UN Special Magazine
  • Comments on the UNRISD Report: Gender Equality, Striving for Justice in an Unequal World (17 May 2005) | Rolph Van Der Hoeven
    This is a very noteworthy publication as it combines, without being dogmatic, rigorous economic, social and political analysis, leading to clear and understandable policy advice.
  • The Last Word: Reply to Jacques Baudot (1 Sep 1999) | Shahra Razavi
    In the last issue of UNRISD News (Number 20), Jacques Baudot contributed a reflective and inspiring ...