The series began with the launch of the findings from our multi-year, multi-region project on Gender and Social Protection. Social Protection has gained considerable political currency over the last five years, and especially as a key tool to help protect the swelling ranks of the poor and vulnerable in the wake of the global crisis. But despite millions of pounds being invested in new programme initiatives by donors and governments alike, attention to the gender dynamics underpinning experiences of poverty and vulnerability has been very thin. ODI’s work with international partners has sought to highlight the critical importance of adopting a gender lens in the design and implementation of public works, cash transfers, food and service subsidies and social insurance programming if the effectiveness of such interventions is to be maximised.
We then turned to an event in the Houses of Parliament hosted by the Parliamentary Committee on Women, Peace and Security focused on the challenges of developing gender-sensitive approaches to sustainable peace in fragile state contexts. Speakers, including the Minister for Women’s Affairs from Afghanistan, focused on recent experiences in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, and potential cross-regional lessons. Again this area of gender and governance is an area that demands new and creative thinking, including cross-fertilisation of ideas across countries and regions.
The third event in the series launched the CPRC report on Stemming Girls’ Chronic Poverty, a major new report authored by researchers of CPRC and the ODI Social Development Programme, which critically engages with the OECD’s new SIGI (Social Institutions and Gender Index). The event brought together researchers from the Global South as well as the OECD Development Institute to discuss potential uses of the index and to highlight promising practices around the globe of initiatives to tackle girls’ experiences of chronic poverty.
The series will culminate in an event to celebrate the March 8 Centenary and explore with leading advocates, cutting-edge scholars, programme advisors and practitioners a range of initiatives aimed at expanding the frontiers of gender and development interventions. While there is a wealth of information on the underlying causes of gender inequalities in development, our collective knowledge base on promising practices to address these inequalities remains fragmented, under-researched and under-documented. This event will therefore aim to spotlight promising new initiatives with the potential to go to scale and make a difference in the lives of the millions of girls and women living in poverty and vulnerability. Speakers will draw on a range of examples, including women and violence; gender and climate change; gender and economic empowerment; we also hope to hear from UN Women about institutional frontiers – UN Women - highlighting high-level policy reforms as well as more grassroots-based initiatives.
March 8 2011 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day, a day that celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women, and also serves as a reminder of the inequities still to be addressed. This year is also significant as it will see the launch of UN Women, a higher status and better-resourced UN entity to tackle gender equality issues globally, at a time when the gender-related challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 appear especially daunting. While there have been significant achievements in terms of girls’ access to education, maternal mortality rates, especially among teenage girls, remain frighteningly high in much of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Political commitments backed by adequate and sustainable funding flows are urgently needed but especially difficult to secure in the current post-3F global crisis environment.
Nevertheless change is happening around the globe, in many cases spearheaded by initially small-scale civil society initiatives, capitalising on deep context-specific knowledge and the creativity of local women, girls and their communities. It is this type of innovation that the ODI Exploring and Expanding the Frontiers of Gender and Development seminar series is seeking to highlight and foster dialogue around among men and women from the global South and North, working in academic, policy research, programme development and implementation, as well as government. In other words, the series, including our public event on the eve of March 8, is designed to share ideas and practices that will help to explore and expand the frontiers of what is currently known and done in the field of gender and development.