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Year: 2007 Type: Article Language: English

Critical evaluation of the current status of ‘gender’ in development points to the conclusion that its political and analytical bite has been blunted by its domestication by development agencies. Transplanted from domains of feminist discourse and practice onto other, altogether different and in many ways inherently hostile institutional terrains, the term has retained little of the radical promise that was once vested in its promotion. ‘Gender equality’ is used as an umbrella term for as diverse a set of activities as gathering sex-disaggregated statistics, doing ‘gender sensitization’, championing women’s rights and making women more competitive in the labour market. That which once lay at the heart of the ‘gender agenda’ – transforming unequal and unjust power relations – seems to have fallen by the wayside. This article traces some of the trajectories of ‘gender’ in development, exploring some of the challenges that arise for feminist engagement with development research.