Mainstream Gender and Development Concepts and Theories at the Interface with Local Knowledge Systems: Some Theoretical Reflections

Romina Istratii


The field of gender and development has been marked in recent years by extensive debates about the shortfalls of gender mainstreaming and the depoliticisation of gender and other concepts in development praxis. In these discussions considerably less thought has been given to the theoretical premises of these concepts and the implications of their interface with the epistemological and normative systems of the diverse communities in which they are employed. In the current paper I hope to undertake a more theoretical project by delineating how three foundational conceptsgender, gender equality, and empowermentare directly linked to secular epistemologies and western gender metaphysics, to suggest how this might be interfering with effective gender and development practice in non-western/non-secular contexts. I propose that more effort may need to be put in reconstructing and theorising gender realities through local conceptual repertoires in order to better design gender interventions that are attuned to local normative systems.

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