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Year: 2011 Type: Article Language: English

Human rights, including women’s rights are dropping off the donor agenda. Recent years have seen a marked shift in official development discourse, with less emphasis on a rights-based approach and more on an efficiency approach to gender equality, exemplified by Nike Foundation’s ‘Girl Effect’ theme of stopping poverty by investing in girls – an initiative that ignores the social, historical and structural factors which contribute to inequality while simultaneously ignoring the voices of the people it seeks to help. Removing the realization of rights, including women’s rights, from the donor agenda is part of a wider tendency to define development in terms of measurable outcomes or instruments – immunizations, bednets, numbers of children going to school, quotas for women in parliament. As a result of the shift to the political right in many OECD governments, these demands for reporting against quantifiable achievements as a measure of impact is having an effect on all the organisations that they are funding. Sustainable progress towards a fairer world requires people working together to change what is wrong with their society. International aid can help when donor organisations are prepared to support locally generated, sometimes messy and frequently unpredictable processes of positive change, which is not the path that the donor agenda is currently on any longer.