Feminism, Interrupted? Gender and Development in the Era of ‘Smart Economics'


Calkin, Sydney. 2015. “Feminism, Interrupted? Gender and Development in the Era of ‘Smart Economics.’” Progress in Development Studies 15 (4): 295–307.

Author: Sydney Calkin


This article assesses feminist accounts of co-optation and appropriation in gender and development policy. Today women and girls are the public faces of anti-poverty policy and occupy an important position in the development discourse; however, the ambiguities of the neoliberal gender agenda have provoked an ongoing debate about the extent to which feminist aims and language have been and de-politicized by mainstream institutions. Have feminist aims been co-opted to legitimize anti-feminist policy goals, or does the current visibility of gender issues reflect the success of particular strands of (neo)liberal feminism? I explore these conflicting accounts by examining the current ‘Gender Equality as Smart Economics’ policy agenda, exploring its major themes and institutional form through a focus on two transnational business initiatives. The article concludes that, although accounts of feminism’s cooptation are flawed in their misrepresentation of a diverse and dynamic movement, the transformations wrought by neoliberal-compatible feminisms present troubling challenges for feminists concerned with intersectionality and the links between gender and economic justice. (Abstract from original)

Topics: Development, Feminisms, Multi-National Corporations

Year: 2015

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