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Changing gender relations in a changing rural environment: What is the evidence?

Research reports

Written by Sharada Keats


​This paper looks at change to rural areas in the developing world that has implications for gender policy relating to gender equity, and rural social and economic development.​The  analysis is divided into two parts and draws on two different strands of literature. The first part focuses on changes in population dynamics, services and institutions. The second part focuses on agricultural research and development policy. A full list of the data used can be found in the annex.

Key messages:

  • The big picture matters but can oversimplify the complex social change processes involved.

  • Social change can be contradictory, unexpected and slow.

  • Strategies to target women work, yet changes in the wider enabling environment may be politically more acceptable, easier to implement and enable women to achieve transformative change.

  • When seeking evidence of change the power of women’s agency should not be underestimated.

  • Widespread support for achieving the gender equity goal of supporting women’s freedom of choice and personal autonomy exists, but policy narratives must move beyond instrumentalising women.

Christine Okali and Sharada Keats