Episode 32: Gender and Development

Gender permeates all development issues, and there is growing debate surrounding how best to implement and promote gender balance and equality throughout the development agenda.

This episode broadly focuses on two different views of why we might be interested in women in development: the first based on instrumental reasons (what can women and girls do for development) and the second on more structural and contextual reasons (what development can do for women and girls).

Our guests are Andrea Cornwall of the Institute of Development Studies and Prue Clarke of New Narratives.

Andrea Cornwall talks of ‘empowerment-lite': the view that small-scale interventions often provide a palliative without addressing the structural causes of inequitable power relations; that they often tackle symptoms but not underlying causes of power imbalance.  She argues that a focus on ‘results’ tends to emphasize instrumental interventions and does not give
enough priority to interventions which help bring about changes in power dynamics.

Prue draws on her experience in working with women journalists in Africa to give examples of how the right small-scale instrumental interventions can change the political context and tackle causes of imbalance, focusing on stories that relate to women and children such as high teen pregnancy, unsafe abortion and female genital cutting.

Download transcript (pdf)

Running time 1 hour and 1 minute; size 39.9 Mb

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.


Would love to see a discussion between these women and Esther Duflo or other J-PALer.

Thanks for a great podcast to Owen and Prue and Andrea. I had some thoughts about the pros and cons of arguing for one-shot solutions vs changes in context, which I explore here:


It would have been nice to hear more about the potential difficulties with changing context!

[…] Frauen besonders benachteiligt und daher besonders gefördert werden müssen. Die Episode “Gender and Development” der Podcast-Reihe Development Drums, erschienen am 10. August, (Podcast zum Download und als […]

[…] change happen, we shouldn’t be watching aid money being given away like this. I was asked in an interview what I would do with the aid budget if it were, as I was arguing, cut and redirected to better […]

Leave a comment