The Beyond 2015: Pathways to a Gender Just World conference held from 29-30 May 2014 celebrated and interrogated learning from the Pathways of Women's Empowerment programme. The meeting provided an opportunity for a group of feminist scholars, activists, and media and communication professionals to look at the trajectory the programme had taken from its initiation in 2005, to look at how research from the programme could influence the post-2015 agenda and to strategise on future directions for work on women's empowerment.
The report from the conference provides a flavour of the discussions enhanced with links to audio of the presentations. The report's summary synthesises some of the points arising from the meeting, including:
- There is a gulf between policy advocates engaged in post-2015 agenda setting and the fears, dreams and demands of many women organising in disparate settings.
- Forging new alliances and intersectionality will be central to the future of feminist activism. The importance of partnering and working together with men, sexual rights activists, the creative industries, workers movements, revolutionaries and legal and religious scholars with an interest in social justice all came through strongly in the meeting.
- Negative outcomes can sometimes prompt possibilities for change. The vile homophobic legislation which is surfacing in countries like Uganda and Nigeria is prompting public figures to ‘come out’ and speak openly about abuses related to sexuality.
- Storytelling holds potential to foster progressive change. Whether women are watching soap operas, reimagining old fairy tales with a feminist slant, or working with the creative industries on films and other artistic outputs, storytelling is a powerful medium for changing consciousness.
- Moving beyond binaries. In recent years development actors have intensified their focus on women and girls. This may provide entry points for good work on women’s empowerment. However, this framing also comes with dangers. A nuanced understanding of gender dynamics in a number of development realms has moved us beyond the old fashioned gender and development notion that one can ‘add women and stir’. Activist and academic focus is now on the structural constraints which limit the possibilities of liberation and how men (progressive, patriarchal, or currently disengaged) can be part of the solution.
On the 29-30 May 2014 a group of feminist scholars, activists, and media and communications professionals met at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex to celebrate and interrogate learning from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment Consortium (Pathways). This was an opportunity to look at the trajectory that the consortium had taken since its early days in 2005, consider how Pathways research could shape the post-2015 development agenda, and strategise about future directions in work on women’s empowerment. …