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O Woman's Day
March 8, 2014 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Talking gender to Africa
International donors have sought to improve the social, political and economic position of women in Africa through an approach known as “gender”. This donor-driven strategy is failing. The jargon of gender programmes is ambiguous and easily misunderstood. It fosters inaction and lip service on the part of patriarchal African governments and civil servants. Gender has become the preserve of the educated elite. The voices of African women have been lost.

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posted by infini (6 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is a language and praxis very particular to development work that can be incredibly formulaic and distanced from reality. The funny part is that it's not a new phenomenon, and everyone involved is aware and usually critical of it, but it only seems to increase with time.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:51 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


This is a problem with affirmative action programs of all kinds, everywhere: people in power who don't understand the way a particular group has been oppressed appropriate the language of oppression and affirmative action, making campaigns that would have been effective, meaningless.
posted by toodleydoodley at 10:07 AM on March 8


The article doesn't seem to be depicting appropriation, but instead African officials simply engaged in a bemused and/or cynical "the customer must always be right" attitude, when the customer = Western donors.

What I am not quite sure about is whether the author is advocating that donors stop trying to impose a Western concept of gender equality upon African recipients, or try harder to impose it successfully / thoroughly.
posted by MattD at 10:40 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm a bit unclear on the author's ultimate point, too. In an article about how an issue has gotten bogged down in jargon, he's gotten a bit bogged down in jargon himself.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:59 AM on March 8


Smells like cultural imperialism, no?
posted by TSOL at 1:12 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Sounds like what happened to Classical Feminism in Patriarchal America...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:09 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


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