Transformative Policy for Poor Women A New Feminist Framework
What accounts for the oft-noted 'gap' between well-designed policies for women and their inadequate implementation? Why do such policies often fail to benefit the poorest women? How do policies address the intersecting inequalities of gender, class, caste, ethnic identity and race? What are the conditions under which policy may have transformative potential for poor women? This book answers these questions and many more. Presenting a new feminist framework for policy analysis that can account for policy failures, Bina Fernandez argues that these failures are often predictable and that it is necessary to unpack the actual policy practices within the policy-implementation gap. Recognising that policy is a multiply layered, contingent and politically contested discursive process, the author proposes the analysis of policy through four analytical categories: Constitutive Contexts, Representations, Practices and Consequences. Within each of these four categories, gender, class and ethnic identity are central axes of analysis. The framework is given substance through an empirical case-study of an anti-poverty policy in India, yet the wider relevance of the framework is validated through a discussion of parallels in the policy contexts of other developing countries. Transformative Policy for Poor Women provides an important and required framework to understand the gap between policy pronouncement and its praxis on the ground. These features make this book an important read for both scholars and practitioners seeking to understand policy in developing country contexts.'
'In the development policy literature, this arresting book will rank alongside Ferguson's classic The Anti-Politics Machine. At the empirical level, Transformative Policy for Poor Women explains the routine paradox of policy that fails to benefit its beneficiaries. At the theoretical level, Bina Fernandez has combined critical public administration with a feminist anti-reductionism in a novel and fertile approach. This well-written book is sure to inspire applications worldwide - and the world will be the better for them.' Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University, UK 'Why and how do anti-poverty policies so often fail to benefit poor women? Fernandez interrogates these persistent failures with an engaging combination of scholarly precision and feminist focus. She provides a lucid explanation of her innovative framework for policy investigation: the relationship between constitutive contexts, policy representations, policy practices and consequences. Going beyond the original context prompting this analysis - policy for poor women in India - she applies her framework across several developing countries to demonstrate its relevance as an alternative policy approach for analyzing intersecting inequalities. An insightful book that clearly moves debates forward.' Caroline Dyer, University of Leeds, UK 'At a time when "poor women" have become a primary target of anti-poverty policies, this book provides a much-needed analytical framework for understanding why policy objectives are not often achieved and why there may be persistent policy failures. Moving beyond the "thin" prescription/evaluation mind-set that characterises the study of policy in developing countries, it provides us with a "thick" description of policy as simultaneously about the discursive production of meaning and as a regime of practices.' Shahra Razavi, UNRISD, Geneva, Switzerland 'Transformative Policy for Poor Women provides an insightful and practical framework for feminist policy analysis