Do Local Needs Matter?: The Relevance of Women’s NGOs in Sub-Saharan Africa


Jasor, Océane M. 2016. “Do Local Needs Matter?: The Relevance of Women’s NGOs in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Gender, Place & Culture 23 (5): 694–713. doi:10.1080/0966369X.2015.1058757.

Author: Océane M. Jasor


This article focuses on the potential of women’s non-governmental organizations (WNGOs) for effectively addressing gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa. As the mainstreaming of gender and women’s issues continues to pervade global governance, scholars, and practitioners have questioned whether local WNGOs are capable of formulating projects that are relevant to the communities in which they work. One important challenge is local WNGOs’ dependence on external funding and agendas. The extensive literature on women and development indicates that there is a critical need to develop a more radical, transformative feminist agenda for women’s empowerment. The objective of this quantitative study is to test the association between WNGOs’ emergence and measures of gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa. It argues that while there is evidence that WNGOs’ formation represents a legitimate response to African countries’ challenges in terms of gender inequality, the institutionalization of gender within NGOs does not automatically translate into greater gender equality and women’s empowerment. This article identifies some of the gaps and limitations of gender mainstreaming initiatives within African WNGOs. Examining the heterogeneity of women’s organizing and WNGO formation in the region and gaps in development activities, this study highlights the importance of place and space in developing a progressive feminist agenda. The quantitative analysis used in this study, which highlights the uneven geographies and scales of WNGO intervention in Sub-Saharan Africa, contributes to, and calls for more geographic studies on development and gendered activism.

Keywords: gender inequality, Sub-Saharan Africa, gender mainstreaming, uneven geographies, WNGO intervention

Topics: Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, NGOs Regions: Africa

Year: 2016

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