The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty
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The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty

Concepts, Research, Policy

Edited by Sylvia Chant

In the interests of contextualising (and nuancing) the multiple interrelations between gender and poverty, Sylvia Chant has gathered writings on diverse aspects of the subject from a range of disciplinary and professional perspectives, achieving extensive thematic as well as geographical coverage. This benchmark volume presents women’s and men’s experiences of gendered poverty with respect to a vast spectrum of intersecting issues including local to global economic transformations, family, age, ‘race’, migration, assets, paid and unpaid work, health, sexuality, human rights, and conflict and violence.
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Chapter 103: Sexuality, Gender and Poverty

Susie Jolly and Andrea Cornwall


Susie Jolly and Andrea Cornwall Gender may have gained greater visibility in mainstream development over the last decade, but it is only very recently that the interactions between gender, sexuality and poverty have become more apparent. Development’s approach to sexuality has tended to be to reduce it to sex, and to treat it as a problem. We tend to hear about sexuality usually only in relation to disease and violence, and rarely in relation to the more positive sides of life (Cornwall, 2006 [see Acknowledgements at the end of the chapter]; Gosine, 1998; Jolly, 2007 [see Acknowledgements]). Pleasure and love are not presumed important to the ‘subjects’ of development – poor people in the Global South. Gosine (1998: 5) contrasts representations of sex between white people, as ‘about desire, love, romance and pleasure’, and between non-white people as ‘about reproduction, fertility control, stupidity and misery’. While development has become much less explicitly gender-blind, it is frequently sexualityblind: much of what we see in development policies and programmes is framed in ways that are generally negative and implicitly or explicitly heteronormative – that is, making the assumption that particular forms of heterosexuality, notably marriage, are everyone’s norm (see also Lind, Chapter 100, this volume; Moore, Chapter 3, this volume). The silences, absences and assumptions that permeate mainstream development policy speak as much about how sexuality, gender and poverty interact, as the little that is explicitly said about these interactions. Take population, for example. It is common to find a focus only on demographic...

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