What does it take to be a gender expert in development?

By Lisa Cornish 17 January 2017

Arthi Patel (left), one of Australia’s leading gender specialists, in Nuwakot, Nepal. Photo by: Arthi Patel

Today, it’s common knowledge that women are an important focus of aid and development programs — they are drivers of health and education at home, yet also a demographic at risk of violence and poverty.

To better target programs and distribute aid most effectively, gender experts have become sought after in the development sector. But they weren’t always at the forefront of development thinking, explained Arthi Patel, one of Australia’s leading gender specialists. After 15 years of working in the Australian aid program for AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Patel is now working as a gender specialist with Palladium to support the implementation of DFAT’s Business Partnerships Platform. The job is allowing her to get hands on and show the private sector why women are an important consideration in business models.

“For me, the job is looking at where the opportunities are for women,” Patel told Devex. “Where are they in the process? Are they consumers? Are they workers? Are they producers in the supply chain?”

As a pioneer of gender specialization within Australia’s aid program, Patel’s road to her current position has been a winding one. She sat down with Devex to discuss her path and what it takes to be a gender expert today.

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About the author

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Lisa Cornishlisa_cornish

Lisa Cornish is a Devex reporter based in Canberra, Australia. Lisa formerly worked with News Corp Australia as a data journalist for the national network and was published throughout Australia in major metropolitan and regional newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in Melbourne, Herald Sun in Melbourne, Courier-Mail in Brisbane and online through news.com.au. Lisa additionally consults with Australian government providing data analytics, reporting and visualization services. Lisa was awarded the 2014 Journalist of the Year by the New South Wales Institute of Surveyors.

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