Project Updates

Updates on our work on the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

Video screenshot - womens back-breaking work

Drawing on evidence from our 126 short case studies, we produced four videos re-telling the stories of real women’s experiences trying to balance the demands of the family and the home with the need to earn an income. In these films, their stories have been adapted into a script, anonymised and narrated by an actor. The photos are from the region where the women are from, but not of the women or their families, themselves.

Each country experience is different, and the women also have different family set ups, but there are recurring themes throughout, around the long-hours work, the back-breaking drudgery and nature of the work, the paucity or absence of support and help. 

Our first two video stories from India and Rwanda are now live, compiling aspects of women's daily work into compelling visuals and first-person narratives.

The new global synthesis report 'No Time to Rest' is now launched. It finds that national and local level women’s economic empowerment initiatives in developing countries are failing to capture the full physical, emotional and economic costs to women of balancing paid work with unpaid care duties.  It warns that unless the backbreaking drudgery of water carrying, fuel collection, cooking and caring is urgently addressed future global progress on women’s rights and gender equality could stall.

Emerging findings from an IDS-led project on Balancing unpaid care work and paid work, part of the global Growth and Equal Opportunities for Women programme (GrOW), has thrown fresh insights into women’s “double-burden” – the responsibility assigned to them of being primarily responsible for care in their home and the need to earn income. 

Case studies provide a ground-level view of the physical, emotional and mental toll on individual women’s lives resulting from long hours spent on back-breaking unpaid household chores, such as collecting and carrying firewood, caring for children or the sick and elderly, and (often manual) paid work such as stone-breaking.

A comic strip exploring recognition for womens unpaid work. Developed by the Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development in India for the IDS-led Balancing unpaid care work and paid work project. In Hindi, with translations in English

As part of the uptake for this research, the Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development in India have created two comic strips exploring the Importance of women's work and recognition for womens unpaid work. In Hindi, with translations in English.

In response to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and Oxfam organised a call for evidence on what works for positive change in the care economy. Information from the call has been collated and synthesised into a position paper that was presented to Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, member of the UN High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment, as part of her consultation exercise prior to the HLP meeting in July 2016, and is now available to download.

As part of the call for evidence on care, IDRC, IDS and Oxfam also convened two webinars to discuss the scale of the challenge, what progress has been made, and to ask why has it stalled. View them online here: session 1 from June 7th and session 2 from June 8th, 2016.

Drawing from the experiences of an organisation who works with mental health carers, this briefing highlights the importance of widening the global mental health agenda to include local carers’ voices, greater government investment in mental health with social protection schemes for carers, flexible paid employment arrangements, and innovative mental health care actions.

What makes it possible for male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to organise and become activists, challenging discriminatory social and gender norms? This question is addressed in a new study from IDS, the Refugee Law Project and Men of Hope Refugee Association Uganda which also looks at the the role of third-party service providers and non-governmental organisations.

The Commission on the Status of Women will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016. IDS is co-organising two parallel events: one on sustainable women’s economic empowerment, drawing on research from the Growth and Economic Opportunities for Women programme, and the other on intersectional inequality and power. Interactions will be there to cover both of them.

IDS has published a new Bulletin which contributes to understanding of how ideas around empowerment have evolved and how we can move forward to expand women's opportunities and choices and realise women's empowerment in a meaningful way. The editors reflect on the interconnectedness of the economic, social and political components of empowerment and highlight significant gaps in policy and programming. 

A new policy briefing from IDS calls for decision-makers to take a broader approach to address the social, structural and economic determinants of health, and to ensure community involvement in interventions with genuine gender inclusivity. The paper is based on six case studies and a thematic review examining women’s and girls’ access to health in low-income urban settlements.

The urban share of poverty is increasing: according to the UN, by 2030 almost 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Health, gender and urbanisation are all included in the Sustainable Development Goals, but are the links clear enough? This blog post takes a look at the Global Goals and how urban health and gender are represented. 

This new policy briefing argues that progressive national tax reforms and improvements in global governance accountability are vital for positive change but that, despite State obligations to ensure economic policies are non-discriminatory and prioritise human rights, regressive tax policies and underfunded public services perpetuate women’s disproportionate responsibility for care. Also available in Spanish translation.

A new IDS policy briefing summarises the key findings of a global research programme on effective organised activism against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). It highlights the importance of addressing the underlying structural causes of violence showing that men are becoming more visible as partners in tackling SGBV, holding themselves and others accountable for maintaining harmful gender norms that perpetuate violence.

04.01.16Stakeholder meeting takes place in Nepal

Oxfam in Nepal and ISST organised a half day meeting on 17 December in Kathmandu. The audience included representatives from government ministries including Women, Children and Social Welfare, Agriculture Development and Local Development, as well as participants from NGOs. The event included an enriching discussion on the study and the audience gave many useful suggestions for the fieldwork and final analysis.

The first two rounds of data collection for the GrOW project have begun in Rajasthan, India. The ISST India team visited remote tribal villages of two districts in Udaipur and Dungarpur. Surveys of 50 women in each of the districts and participatory activities with groups of women, men and children of these villages revealed hard living and working conditions, combined with discriminatory gender roles that had resulted in acute time poverty and drudgery for women. 

It is now widely accepted that effective strategies to end sexual and gender-based violence must engage with men and boys. However, as highlighted by a new IDS policy brief, the relationship between traditional women’s rights movements and organisations working on engaging men and boys is an uneasy one. The paper makes recommendations on how to build better alliances for the future.

On Human Rights Day, Kabafunzaki Darius King and Dieudonne Maganya talk about their work in participatory filmaking in Uganda - the successes and challenges they've experienced and the impact that video can have on creating positive change. 


Interactions has published a new series of dialogues on the engagement of men and boys in tackling sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). This one-off blog series offers an opportunity to openly talk about SGBV and the successes and challenges connected to addressing it. Experts will have their say and anyone can join the dialogue until 10 December. 

Throughout the 16 Days campaign, from 25 November until 10 December, IDS will be bringing together its work on gender, violence, militarism and education, along with that of its global partners and friends. Check back each day for new things: from academic research to news, blog posts to video.

This new policy brief from IDS highlights that gendered violence does not exist in isolation, and is intertwined with other forms of power, privilege and social exclusion. It argues that taking an ‘intersectional analysis’ approach can help to realise the tangled nature of SGBV and how cross-movement alliance building and the sharing of best practice is crucial in tackling this violence.

On Thursday 19 November a seminar discussing the rape of men in conflict settings will also launch the film 'Men Can Be Raped Too', which has been developed by the members of the Men of Hope Association (MOHA), a refugee support group in Uganda. The event will include 'provocations' from Refugee Law Project Director, Chris Dolan and, via video link from Uganda, members of the MOHA. Watch the film and tune in to the live discussion on Interactions.

IDS has published a new report outlining their global-level advocacy work, undertaken with ActionAid International, over the course of a four-year programme to make care visible. It highlights that the inclusion of unpaid care work in the final outcome document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals as one way in which unpaid care work is being slowly recognised in development discourse, programmes and policies.

How do we make cities more inclusive and secure? At the ‘From Urban Exclusion to Inclusive Urbanisation’ workshop, hosted by IIED, IDS and UNFPA in London from 28-30 October 2015, Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed outlined the particular challenges urban women face in accessing the increased social, economic, and political opportunities available to them in cities.

A new report, published by IDS, focuses on gender and the emergence of a dynamic network of actors that reveal not only Sierra Leone's history of violence, but also its capacity for ‘rebuilding differently’ to foster resilience and create long-term social transformation.

The Refugee Law Project has produced five video testimonies from men who experienced conflict-related sexual violence in their home country of Democratic Republic of Congo and are now taking a stand against sexual violence in Uganda.

Pauline Oosterhoff, from IDS, presented her policy case study on Urban Health Policy in an Indigenous Context in India as part of a Panel Session on Urbanisation, Health & Policy at the MAGic2015 conference on ‘Anthropology and Global Health: interrogating theory, policy and practice’, which took place at the University of Sussex from 9-11th September 2015.

A new case study, published by the Institute of Development Studies, explores the 'New ‘MASVAW Men’', a growing network in Uttar Pradesh, India, and the role of men and boys in addressing sexual and gender-based violence through collective action.

This report from the IDS Gender, Power and Sexuality Programme explores the programme's emphasis on linking local voices to global arenas to influence policy discourses on gender justice and sexual rights, the paper reviews the contribution made by engagements with the Men and Masculinities field and reflects on challenges faced and lessons learned.

The paper, ‘Conceptualising women’s economic empowerment: the importance of care’ was presented on the panel,  ‘Social Reproduction, Care and Women’s Economic Empowerment: New Framing and Research to support Claimsmaking’, at the 24th IAFFE conference in Berlin from 16-18 July 2015. The panel, organised by the Institute of Development Studies, included papers Oxfam and ActionAid, as well as leading scholars, such as Professors Ruth Pearson and Rhys Jenkins.