The Politics of Gender and Feminism in Development

Key information

Module code
Department of Development Studies

Module overview

This module centres gender within analyses of development in relation to broader processes of imperialism, globalisation, democracy, and neoliberalism. The module aims to provide students with a critical approach to gender and development which, while recognising the previous decades of moves to institutionalise gender policy frameworks, acknowledges the instrumentalisation of gender for broader ideological purposes and aims.

With a starting point that gender analysis on its own is not sufficient to achieve or promote gender equality, awareness or ‘rights’, the module approaches gender through a range of accompanying ideological and conceptual frameworks which encourage students to consider how gender analysis operates both as a method of evaluation but also as an ideological justification for other systems, forms and acts of intervention.

Competing theoretical and conceptual frameworks will be engaged with in order to highlight contested notions of gender and feminism in relation to local and global systems of social, political and economic organisation.

The module is shaped by an interdisciplinary approach and draws on a range of different sources and illustrations taken from global and locally specific examples. Students will be encouraged to read extensively and to pursue topics for the assessments which apply the critical approaches explored in the module to selected examples.

For on campus students wanting to select this module, please note you will not be able to select this and 15PDSH010 as this is a restricted combination.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Recognise how gender analysis cross-cuts and is influenced by broader social contexts and phenomena permeating society such as imperialism, globalisation, democracy and neoliberalism

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding on how gender theories are used as tools for social change as they are gradually absorbed and institutionalised in contemporary policy frameworks, and more deeply, how those seating in positions of power use gender theories instrumentally as effective ideological weapons to legitimise and advance their distinct aims and interests in society

  • Discern and be aware about the strengths and limitations of gender analysis in different social settings and how it can be implemented as an evaluation method, while also acknowledging how gender analyses alone cannot be ever sufficient to achieve gender equality, awareness or ‘rights’


Teaching takes place online

Scope and syllabus

The module will cover topics such as:

  1. Gender, feminism and development: ‘rights’, justice and equality in global neoliberal times

  2. Coloniality, gender policy and the ‘civilising mission’

  3. Possession and dispossession: gender, the family and private property

  4. Gender-based violence: conceptual and policy approaches

  5. Gender mainstreaming and international institutions: WID, GAD and beyond

  6. Queering development

  7. The girl child and the girl effect: from social policy instrument to marketing tool

  8. The neoliberal state and gendered insecurity

  9. Gender gaps, disparities and missing women

  10. Social media, digital activism and the gender divide in the Global South

  11. Ecofeminism, sustainable development and climate change

  12. Whose feminism prevails?: the politics of gender knowledge and practice

  13. Gender perspectives on migration and mobility

  14. Debating the future of gender and development: from colonial, neocolonial to transnational paradigms

This list is indicative of the type of content that is proposed for the module and may be subject to change.

Method of assessment

100% coursework


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules