Concepts, Research, Policy
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Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 82: Is Gender Inequality a Form of Poverty? Shifting Semantics in Oxfam GB’s Thinking and Practice
Nicholas Piálek This chapter is not an attempt to examine the struggles, crises or torments of institutionalising gender equality and women’s rights thinking and practice within development organisations – these struggles are well known and well documented both by practitioners and academics from an Oxfam GB perspective and beyond. Instead, this chapter seeks to reflect upon the generally positive shifting semantic relationship between gender inequality and poverty in Oxfam GB which has resulted from the aforementioned struggles. In doing so, this chapter discusses how this shift has opened up exciting opportunities for developing a much broader and more explicit women’s rights agenda in the organisation’s public policy and programme work. At the same time, I urge a note of caution on the potential dangers masked by organisational shifts towards an increasingly progressive language on gender equality and poverty. Shifting semantics on gender and poverty in Oxfam GB Oxfam GB (henceforth referred to as Oxfam) is a large international non-governmental development organisation (NGDO) that has an explicit mandate to ‘overcome poverty and suffering’. It is not a women’s rights organisation, nor does it support a feminist ambition of promoting women’s rights and challenging gender inequality for its own sake. As a consequence, work around gender inequality and women’s rights issues for much of Oxfam’s nearly 70-year history has neither been specifically developed nor an explicitly recognised aspect of the organisation’s work. However, building on the sustained endeavours of feminists and gender advocates in the organisation, in 1984 the Oxfam Gender and...
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