Gender Justice, Citizenship and Development
Ten years after the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing there is considerable interest among gender advocates and development institutions in reviewing how far the project of gender equality has progressed. According to a major review by the UN, the answers are not straightforward and at best ambiguous (UNRISD/UN 2005). Whereas there have been notable gains for women during this period, gender inequalities persist and today there is a less favourable economic and political environment for promoting equality than that which existed ten years ago. The anniversary of the Beijing conference has also led to reassessment of gender mainstreaming as the main strategy for promoting equality and advancing women's positions in and through development.1 Generally speaking, international experience with gender mainstreaming has not been positive. Despite some important advances, 'feminists' aspirations for social transformation' remain unfulfilled (Cornwall et al. 2004: 1). For some, the failure of gender mainstreaming initiatives stems from its de-politicization —it has moved from being a process of transformation to an end in itself pursued with solely instrumentalist intent. A central problem has been the difficulty of finding a fit between the technical project of mainstreaming gender equality in policy, programme and projects, and the political project of challenging inequality and promoting women's rights. A decade of 'gender mainstreaming' seems to have blurred the distinctive focus on transforming unequal power relations between the genders developed by both national and transnational women's movements.