Revisiting gender mainstreaming in international development: Goodbye to an illusionary strategy

Ria Brouwers

Research output: Working paperAcademic


In contrast to the concrete problems women face worldwide, of discrimination in family and society, of violence and disrespect, of poverty and lack of rights, the policy of international development organisations to defeat these impediments has been abstract. Wrapped in the mystifying language of ‘gender mainstreaming’, development agencies pursue a strategy which itself has consumed all attention at the cost of tangible action to solve real problems. By going back to the time that the policy became solidly rooted, the mid 1990s, I document and compare evaluation studies and reviews of bilateral and multilateral donors, in particular those conducted since the turn of the century. Not one study reports positively about the gender mainstreaming policy. The essentials of the discourse of gender and development are not reflected in practice, the policy has not moved beyond the stage of a theory. Evaluation studies have been pre-occupied with the strategy of mainstreaming itself, failing to address the results thereof for women and gender equality. This paper aims to support the discretely emerging voices to move away from the illusion of gender mainstreaming and to develop a policy that is oriented towards concrete issues and contains direct efforts to make gender equality happen.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series

Bibliographical note


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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