Feminisms, Empowerment and Development

Changing Womens Lives

Edited by Jenny Edwards and Andrea Cornwall


Providing a renewed focus on politicized feminism and development, rather than gender and development alone, this book balances first-hand research with theory, providing a thorough and more nuanced overview of the topic.
The economic and political empowerment of women continues to be a central focus for development agencies worldwide; access to medical care, education and employment, as well as women's reproductive rights remain key factors effecting women's autonomy. Feminisms, Empowerment and Development explores what women are doing to change their own personal circumstances whilst providing an in-depth analysis of collective action and institutionalized mechanisms aimed at changing structural relations.

Drawing on unique, original research and approaching empowerment as a complex process of negotiation, rather than a linear sequence of inputs and outcomes, this crucial collection highlights the difficulty of creating common agendas for the advancement of women's power and rights, and argues for a more nuanced, context-based approach to development theory and practice. An indispensible text for anyone interested in gender and development, this book shows that policies and approaches to development that view women as instrumental to other objectives will never promote women's empowerment as they fail to address the structures by which gender inequality is perpetuated over time.

Author Bio

Andrea Cornwall is the director of the Pathways of Women's Empowerment programme and professor of anthropology and development in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. She has written widely on gender issues in development, sexuality and development and participatory governance. Her publications include Women, Sexuality and the Politics of Pleasure (Zed 2013), Men and Development: Politicising Masculinities (Zed 2012) and The Politics of Rights: Dilemmas for Feminist Praxis (2009).

Jenny Edwards has been the programme officer for the Pathways of Women's Empowerment programme at the Institute of Development Studies since 2006. She studied cultures and communities at the University of Sussex and her dissertation was on the politics of stepmothering as portrayed in children's literature. Her interests are in the issues of gender stereotyping, particularly in popular culture, and women's political representation.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Negotiating Empowerment - Andrea Cornwall and Jenny Edwards
  • 1. Legal Reform, Women's Empowerment and Social Change: The Case of Egypt - Mulki Al-Sharmani
  • 2. Quotas: A Pathway of Political Empowerment? - Ana Alice Alcantara Costa
  • 3. Advancing Women's Empowerment or Rolling Back the Gains? Peace Building in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone - Hussaina J. Abdullah
  • 4. Education: Pathway to Empowerment for Ghanaian Women? - Akosua K. Darkwah
  • 5. Paid Work as a Pathway of Empowerment: Pakistan's Lady Health Worker Programme - Ayesha Khan
  • 6. Steady Money, State Support and Respect Can Equal Women's Empowerment in Egypt - Hania Sholkamy
  • 7. Changing Representations of Women in Ghanaian Popular Music - Akosua Adomako Ampofo and Awo Mana Asiedu
  • 8. Subversively Accommodating: Feminist Bureaucrats and Gender Mainstreaming - Rosalind Eyben
  • 9. Reciprocity, Distancing and Opportunistic Overtures: Women's Organizations Negotiating Legitimacy and Space in Bangladesh - Sohela Nazneen and Maheen Sultan
  • 10. Empowerment as Resistance: Conceptualizing Palestinian Women's Empowerment - Eileen Kuttab
  • 11. Crossroads of Empowerment: The Organization of Women Domestic Workers in Brazil - Terezinha Gonçalves
  • 12. Women's Dars and the Limitations of Desire: The Pakistan Case - Neelam Hussain
  • 13. The Power of Relationships: Money, Love and Solidarity in a Landless Women's Organization in Rural Bangladesh - Naila Kabeer and Lopita Huq
  • 14. Women Watching Television: Surfing between Fantasy and Reality - Aanmona Priyadarshini and Samia Afroz Rahim
  • 15. Family, Households and Women's Empowerment through the Generations in Bahia, Brazil: Continuities or Change? - Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg


'In a neoliberal development paradigm obsessed with silver bullets for complex social challenges, this book is a transformative text that reveals the multifaceted, unpredictable and even contradictory results of empowerment processes. Its rich array of insights and lessons - most powerfully articulated in the voices of women engaged in the struggle - has immense value for researchers, activists, policy makers, and the aid and philanthropic community. I consider this a vitally important text for all those who believe there can be no development or social justice without gender justice.'
Srilatha Batliwala, Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

'This book, with rich empirically grounded chapters from around the world, is a truly feminist multidisciplinary collection that brings the discourse on women's empowerment to a new level.'
Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers University

'A helpful book at the right time. After decades of trying to get women's rights to the top of policy-making agendas, it is refreshing to read sound analysis about the pitfalls, "rallying points" and "hidden pathways" that feminist activists, organizations and movements are today facing.'
Nicky McIntyre, Mama Cash

'Based on context-specific, wide-ranging and incisive analysis, this innovative and insightful book ... raises hard and serious questions that help us lay to rest conventional assumptions and easy generalizations related to women's empowerment. It provides a stimulating and solid contribution to ongoing debates on social change.'
Zenbework Tadesse, women's rights activist and member of the board of DAWN


Publication Date: 13 March 2014
344 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780325835
Hardback: 9781780325842
eBook ePub: 9781780325866
eBook PDF: 9781780325859
eBook Kindle: 9781780325873

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