» Archive for: March, 2014

On 16th January 2014, over 60 participants working in gender, rights and development from DGIS, Dutch universities and NGOs attended a KIT Gender and WO=MEN sponsored Forum “Realising Gender Equality and Women’s Rights in a Neoliberal Era”. ISS Associate Professor and CIRI member Dr Wendy Harcourt gave the keynote speech discussing the global issues that are preventing gender equality.

The KIT website has an interview with Wendy Harcourt in which she discusses her keynote speech.

The forum provided an opportunity for participants to identify transformative approaches and practices that contribute to gender equality and women’s rights in an era of development policy being informed by economic growth agendas and new public management techniques.

After the key note speeches of Wendy Harcourt and Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay, presentations of case studies by HIVOS, Oxfam Novib, KIT Gender, Mama Cash and Saskia Vossenberg provided a rich basis for an in-depth conversation of opportunities and dilemmas of working on transformative change in the current era.

CIRI would like to invite you to the seminar with the title Local governance reforms in the wake of the Arab Spring: Opportunities for social accountability?’ by Dr Sylvia Bergh, ISS lecturer and CIRI member.

When: Tuesday 11th March 2014, 13.00 -14.00 hrs
Where: ISS, room 339


In recent years, various civic (as well as non-civic) movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Morocco and elsewhere began challenging existing regimes of rule, focusing their public accusations and acts of insurgency on political elites as well as the institutions of the state. Underpinning and propelling different forms of collective action was a wide discontent regarding an uneven distribution of civic, political and social rights of citizenship between different groups and classes of the nation. While there is now quite a substantial body of literature on the underlying causes of the various revolutions and protests, and valuable studies are emerging on the main actors and their practices, the responses from the states and donors in the area of strengthening social accountability at the local level remain under researched.

Different state actors (e.g. agencies, ministries, governance networks) and their political and bureaucratic elites have responded to calls for greater accountability by creating new “participatory” institutions (e.g. participatory urban planning systems, municipal service centers, and consultative committees for gender equity and equal opportunities in Morocco and Tunisia), increased decentralization to municipal levels, and the establishment or strengthening of Economic and Social Councils and Ombudsman offices. Similarly, international donors have scaled up their work on social accountability initiatives, including community score cards in the education field in Egypt and Morocco, health (Egypt), and water (Yemen). Various participatory and gender-responsive budgeting initiatives are also underway.

However, it is not well known whether social movements and individual citizens are willing and able to take part in or engage with these new state and donor initiatives, whether they are boycotting them, or whether they are indeed being co-opted and depoliticized by and through them. The main question to be addressed by the proposed future research is thus: what patterns of interaction emerged between social movements and state agencies/institutions in the Middle East and North Africa, and what are the outcomes of such engagements in terms of local accountability relations and governance reforms? A related question is whether local actors hold notions and understandings of accountability that differ from Western ones. By including detailed case studies, this research also aims to make a methodological contribution in terms of exploring how the impact of these new social accountability initiatives can be evaluated.

News on SRI publication: Bodies, Sexualities and Gender, Gender, Technology and Development, March 2014; Vol. 18, No. 1

In March 2014 Gender, Technology and Development: published a  Special Issue: Bodies, Sexualities and Gender, March 2014; Vol. 18, No. 1. The issue featured a very strong SRI presence. CIRI staff members of the Sexuality Research Initiative Wendy Harcourt, Rosalba Icaza and Silke Heuman were among the contributors along with ISS Alumni Kaira Zoe K Alburo Canete, Annet Wanjira Kiura, Shuchi Karim, Eneze Modupe-Oluwa Baye and Gina Rocafort Gatarin and members of the SRI alumni network.

The special issue on Bodies, Sexualities and Gender looks at changes in technology and gender in relation to sexuality, embodiment, and development. The issue features the latest feminist thinking about sexuality in relation to technology understood within the broader debates on gender and science, bodies and health, culture and economic development.

It takes up economic, legal and social concerns around technology and gender, questioning the assumed emancipatory power of technology for women.

The issue consists of the following articles and reports:

International Institute of Social Studies

CIRI aims to scale up and identify synergies between existing research at ISS on civic agency and change agents, as drivers of societal change and development. This blog is a forum on which to share and discuss themes and issues which fall within the broad framework of the programme.

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