Expert weighs in on ongoing women’s empowerment efforts

How does the international community fare in terms of addressing gender issues and advancing women’s empowerment? A U.K.-based expert suggests a shift in donors’ outlook is necessary if these goals are to be met.

“If women and girls are really to be put at the heart of development efforts, a good place to begin is to ask not what women and girls can do for development, but what development might do for them,” Andrea Cornwall says in her post at the Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog. Cornwall is a professor at the University of Sussex and director of Pathways of Women’s Empowerment, an international research and communications program that receives funding from the U.K.’s Department for International Development and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Citing Pathways of Women’s Empowerment’s research, Cornwall argues that while current efforts to advance women empowerment meet donor-set goals, both these efforts and goals do not fuel a transformation in “women’s sense of their own possibilities and horizons, and shifts of power that are the precondition for creating a more just and equal world.”

It’s high time the international community revisits and revitalizes the commitments outlined in the plan of action set at a women’s conference in Beijing 20 years ago, Cornwall says.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.