The global development industry now has a mainstream focus on gender, at least rhetorically. Gender equality is goal 5 of the SDGs. Yet how are such commitments operationalised in practice? For example, how is ‘empowerment’ defined and measured in development projects? A growing decolonial feminist critique demands attention be paid to the cultural and complex dynamics of gender and social inclusion. Yet such analysis is often resisted by the hegemonic power of aid funders.
This seminar brings together academic practitioners working in this space to consider these questions. Please register your interest to participate here.
1. Dr Jackie Ogega– Head of Gender and Social Inclusion, World Vision- USA
Author of: Women, Religion and Peacebuilding: Maasai and Gusii women of faith in Kenya. Dr Ogega will talk about the research detailed in her forthcoming book (Women, Religion and Peacebuilding: Maasai and Gusii women of faith in Kenya). She will also reflect on her position in World Vision and the tensions between theory and practice.
2. Dr Constance Akurugu, Lecturer in Sociology and Gender Studies (SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies- Ghana)
Dr Akurugu will present an ongoing research project that focuses on decolonising local non-governmental organisations’ approach to women’s empowerment amid the Covid-19 pandemic in northern Ghana. The research explores ways of decentering Euro-and American-centrism in women’s empowerment praxis in the context of resource scarcity. The presentation will discuss the tensions between negotiating culturally appropriate approaches to empowering women and meeting the interests of the neoliberal and philanthro-capitalist donor agencies. As well, it will consider a framework for the decolonisation project.
3. Ruth Smith– PhD candidate- School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds
Topic: Decolonising ‘women’s empowerment’ praxis and practice in sub-Saharan Africa
Ruth Smith will present her recent research into Gender Transformative Approaches (GTA) in Agriculture implemented by CARE USA. She will question how normative concepts like ‘empowerment’ are conceptualised within CARE’s GTA portfolio across sub-Saharan Africa, and how it is operationalised through quantitative indices like the ‘Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index’ – and what is missed in this process. Ruth will offer some considerations as to how engaging with decolonial feminist praxis may offer potential in a conceptualisation of ‘empowerment’ that is more contextually relevant to African women