1st Edition

Engendering Transformative Change in International Development

By Gillian Fletcher Copyright 2019
    200 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    200 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Sustainable Development Goals were launched in 2015 with grand ambitions for ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all, with ‘no one left behind’. However, these goals will be impossible to achieve without addressing inequity, inequality, marginalisation, and exclusion related to gender, and to other intersecting social hierarchies linked to deeply emotional, culturally bound norms and judgements of worth. This book asks readers to consider issues of knowledge, power, and effectiveness, emphasising the limits of taking a categorical approach to gender and other social hierarchies, and the importance of process in what is known about generating transformative social change.

    Engendering Transformative Thinking and Practice in International Development draws on a range of real world examples which demonstrate both the limitations of the frameworks currently in use, and the very real possibilities for change when the intersecting social hierarchies that sustain and create inequity and inequality are challenged. This book brings together theoretical perspectives on social change, gender, intersectionality, and forms of knowledge, concluding with a set of proposals for revitalising a change agenda that recognises and engages with intersectionality and practical wisdom. Perfect for students and scholars of social change, gender, and development, this book will also be useful for practitioners looking for new ideas to help to generate social change.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables


    List of Abbreviations

    1) Introduction

    2) Transforming Knowledge

    3) Trafficking in Gendered Norms

    4) Conjuring up a Categorical View of Sorcery Accusation Related Violence in Papua New Guinea

    5) Sorcery Accusation Related Violence: The Limits of Fixed Knowledge in Generating Change

    6) ‘Out of Africa’: A Story of Hope, Possibilities, Politics… and Missed Opportunities

    7) ‘Our Men Our Healing’: Using Cultural Strengths to Restore Collective Wellbeing for Indigenous Australians

    8) Final Reflections



    Gillian Fletcher is Gender and Diversity Adviser for Myanmar NGO, Paung Ku; Co-convenor of the Australian Council for International Development Sexual Rights in Development Community of Practice; and Honorary Fellow, Department of Politics and Philosophy, La Trobe University, Australia. She is also a member of the Editorial Board for Culture, Health and Sexuality journal.

    Excerpt from review in Progress in Development Studies: 20, 1 (2020)

    "This book [contributes] to existing critiques of development discourse and practice, such as those emerging from postcolonial studies, participatory development, feminist studies, and postdevelopment literature. Focusing on these issues through a gender perspective, the book uniquely contributes to these bodies of literature. Development practitioners wishing to engage in a critical reflection of their work, and the industry in general, will find this book valuable. It does not only offer a much-needed counter-perspective to dominant approaches in development, but also proposes a clear way forward. It provides an accessible entry point to some of the key issues problematized by a wide range of scholars seeking to address the tendency of development interventions to (re)produce power asymmetries." -- Diana Jiménez Thomas Rodríguez, Department of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK

    "This important book is essential reading for all who would like to see a shift from instrumentalising women in the service of neoliberal development to transformative social change that tackles entrenched inequalities and challenges discrimination on the basis of gender." -- Andrea Cornwall, Head of the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, UK

    "Gillian Fletcher has written a must-read book for anyone who wants to understand and do international development differently. Drawing on a thoughtful analysis of several case studies, Fletcher asks tough questions and makes compelling arguments for rethinking how development is done: starting by acknowledging the importance of emotions and looking at ourselves in brutally honest ways. This is a refreshing look at the current state of the aid industry, one that is driven by acronyms, cookie-cutter definitions and hasty solutions to complex and seldom understood problems." -- Navanita Bhattacharya, Steering Group Member, Australian Coalition of Civil Society Organisations on Women Peace and Security, Australia

    "This is no ordinary book about gender but a salutary and timely shock to past and much present thinking and practice in development, gender-related or not. Drawing on nearly twenty years’ field experience and [a range of] case studies, Gillian Fletcher contrasts the boxes and categories of fixed knowledge with an iterative practical wisdom approach to complex social contexts. This is a must read for all development professionals, whether activist or academic, national or international, or working in Civil Society or government. Its exploration of frontiers of professional understanding forces us to questioning how we see things, think and act." -- Robert Chambers, Research Associate, Institute of Development Studies, UK