In this essay, I will compare and contrast women in development (WID) and gender and development (GAD) as conceptual categories to determine how far the GAD approach is beneficial in investigating development issues and projects in the south.
Examples of where WID or GAD approaches have been utilized will be examined. While GAD doesn’t focus exclusively on women, it provides a beneficial framework on which to examine the gender and development issues in the south.
Before investigating the cases where GAD is relevant in gender situations in the south, it is important to define each of the concepts. WID refers to the integration of women in the worldwide growth of politics, economics and society. It represented the start of studying the gender-specific divisions of the labor pool. WID is a very simplistic concept that essentially investigates what is deemed to be an unfair division of labor. The framework helps to inspire action plans that help address the problems with the labor pool.
GAD is a term that became popular in the 1980s and is basically a newer version of WID. In its framework, women and gender are combined as one with no regard for the various exploitations that were obvious in women. At the heart of the term is the determination to mitigate and eliminate the oppression of women. The failure of GAD is there is just a very simplistic set of tools that helped to investigate women and the world in which they live. This limitation results in a lack of progress for women’s rights. There is a reason why GAD didn’t look at the specific aspects associated with women and their relationship with society. GAD had its sights on a holistic approach which looked at both genders, rather than just one. Also, the study was based on stereotypes of women and men, and their typical roles in society. Using the stereotypical roles, along with the perspectives of both men and women, GAD attempts to develop a framework that society can base itself on. Because the concept includes both genders, the thinking is that the framework would accommodate both genders when applied to a nation’s development.
The main different between to two terms is the way in which GAD neglects to investigate in detail the various aspects of women and their relationship with society. The main reason for that is because GAD is focused more on the ways progress occurs as a whole in a nation, which requires the various influences of both genders. Particularly, GAD focuses more on the general construction of gender and the many roles that are applied to each of the genders. Because of the vast generalizations given, there are only stereotypes on which to go on for the examination using this concept. The primary concern with this view is the roles that each gender plays, or at least the roles each gender is expected to play, in the society under investigation. In GAD, the views of each gender are applied to the examination, which is an advantage the concept has over WID, because it doesn’t just utilize the opinions and perspective of women, thus broadening the research. Because GAD was more able to incorporate the different roles of each gender, it was much easier to fit the concept into society.
GAD also differs from WID because it looks at the work done by women at home and investigates the family unit and then considers it to be invaluable to a society that functions well. The concept claims that the state needs to intervene in order to protect the family unit. Such state intervention would include funding in order to help raise children when there isn’t the right amount of care available. GAD recognizes that women should be the source of much of the funding because there is a higher frequency that mothers are single parents, rather than men.
While GAD is criticized as having its limits due to the fact that it doesn’t look solely at the concerns of women, others have called it a more evolved version of WID. This is due to the fact that it is more objective about the societal trends, rather than being partial to the issues facing women.
There is a serious recognition of the need for there to be improvements in the status of women who are living in the south, and this is where many concepts from GAD come in handy. The need for improvement is a determination that signifies the need to promote the potential roles of the women in the development of these nations. This is a major GAD issue. It is not just simply a human rights issue or a social justice issue, women are now considered a crucial component of society and the mission to achieve sustainable development. Through economic analysis comes the recognition that the low levels of training and education, in addition to the poor health and, particularly, nutrition of many in the south, plays major roles in whether a nation will prosper. Furthermore, consideration needs to be given to the fact that when women are deprived of the ability to be productive members of society, there are limited resources that the state can utilize. When women are not allowed to be productive members of society, they are not only becoming depressed, but they are also not helping the economy of their nation move forward. So, on an economic level, it is imperative that women are given an opportunity to participate in the economy.
Without there being an increased investment in the south for various planning processes that are designed to stimulate economic growth, human development such as population planning, poverty reduction, and management of the nation’s environment and natural resources, a nation will not flourish. In order to satisfy these needs, women need to be included in the workforce and they need to be educated. GAD says that this is not possible without increasing the investment in women and paying close attention to the needs, concerns and contributions of women in society. There are also various public policies and investments that should help to promote the development of women in the society and the economic payoffs of having them involved reveals itself in higher economic growth rates, reduced health and welfare costs, improved productivity, mortality rates, and low maternal and infant morbidity. When money is dedicated to including women in the economic goals of a nation, the results are better educated people who are healthier and able to participate in a literate workforce.
GAD also provides an effective framework for examining the various development issues and projects in the south by showing that improved health among women can reduce the country’s rapid population growth, which is a major issue in the south. This will also help improve the welfare of the families and children, while reducing the health care costs and poverty. Education also has a positive impact on society, GAD has revealed. When investment is made in the education of girls, the return lasts for generations. The girls benefit from there being an enhanced capacity to earn in the future. There are more opportunities in the labor market, more control over their personal lives, and far fewer health risks that come with childbirth and pregnancy. The society also benefits because the education that the girls receive will likely slow the population growth. GAD shows that it also improves health and education for the next generations. When girls are educated, it is a long-term investment because while the results might not be seen immediately, they are evident in the future.
GAD also shows that when women have greater access to financial services, they are contributing more to the reduction of poverty and this can help women to become better able to contribute to the family welfare and household income. This makes the move out of poverty much easier for the families in the south. These types of financial services will help the intermediaries, because GAD research has shown that women are actually better savers, and this can lead to the better mobilization of the savings. Also, the more women savers there are, there will likely be fewer bad debts, which is beneficial for the financial sector of the nation’s economy.
With the south undergoing rapid economic and social changes, there are many obstacles that are presented in relation to women. However, with the application of GAD, governments and non-governmental agencies can begin to take a hard look at the changes that need to be made in societies in order for there to be changes that can really make a difference not only in the lives of the women in these countries, but also in the economic outlook of these nations. The major social issues that are evident in the south can be fixed with the proper application of the research that comes out of GAD. Without including women in the economy of these nations, each country’s population is being underutilized by approximately half. Old-fashioned ways of women’s traditional roles in society doesn’t allow for realized prosperity of the nation, and particularly the general well-being of those who live in the country. Women need to be recognized in the south as being important components, because without that recognition, these nations will continue to suffer.