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Year: 2008 Type: Journal Language: English

Even the most devoted believers in the neoliberal paradigm will have had their convictions shaken recently, as the world’s markets have played havoc with their faith. For those who have long questioned the purported benefits of neoliberal economic policies and highlighted their injurious consequences, it comes as little surprise that this 'grab-bag of ideas' is in freefall. The focus of this IDS Bulletin is particularly apposite at a time when much-cherished axioms are being re-inspected and where new possibilities and directions are so badly needed. Contributors add to a growing, vibrant debate about Gender and Development. This issue arises from a conference held at IDS in July 2007 in collaboration with Birkbeck College, under the Pathways of Women's Empowerment Research Programme Consortium, where participants reflected on the relationship between feminisms and neoliberalism, in the context of international development. What emerges from many of these articles is a sense of unease with the extent to which G&D discourses have lent themselves to appropriation – and with what stories they tell about women and their assumed relationships with men and with each other. Revisioning feminist engagement calls for reflexivity, repositioning and canny appraisal of what it takes to make change happen. Challenging and transforming existing power relations involves empowerment and resistance, which may run directly counter to the neoliberal model. To reclaim agency and empowerment we need to reaffirm their liberating dimensions, reasserting their association with forms of collective action that involve possibilities of social transformation. The debates thrown up by this diverse and stimulating collection suggest that this process has already begun.

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