Critically analyze the various approaches to women’s development focusing on women in development (WID), women and development (WAD), and Gender and Development (GAD).

Critically analyze the various approaches to women’s development focusing on women in development (WID), women and development (WAD), and Gender and Development (GAD).

CSS Solved Gender Studies Past Papers | Critically analyze the various approaches to women’s development focusing on women in development (WID), women and development (WAD), and Gender and Development (GAD).

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Question Breakdown

The phrase “women in development” has gained widespread use in recent years, both inside and outside of academic institutions. However, while “women in development,” or “WID,” is commonly used to refer to the inclusion of women in global processes of economic, political, and social growth and change, the meanings of two more contemporary acronyms, “WAD” (Women and Development) and “GAD” (Gender and Development) are frequently unclear. This article will examine the assumptions and meanings behind the terms “WID,” “WAD,” and “GAD” before examining how different perspectives on the relationship between gender and development have shaped thinking in research, policy, and international agency.


1- Introductory Remarks

2- Analyzing Contemporary Approaches

  • ✓ Women in Development
    • Features
      • Women’s Role in Economic Development Work- Catalyst to WID approach
      • Cultural modernization- a way to undermining the old cultural practices
      • Gender as an independent variable
      • Scholarly attention to division of labour
      • Manifested relationship between Women in Development and Modernization
      • Women’s progress seen through lens of Women in Development
      • Different approaches of WID
    • ✓ Critique in point
  • ✓ Women and Development
    • Origin:
      Emerged from a critique of the modernization theory and the WID approach in the second half of the 1970s
    • Theoretical base:
      Draws from the dependency theory
    • Focus:
      *- Women have always been part of development process-therefore integrating women in development is a myth
      *- Focuses on relationship between women and development process
    • Features
      Interaction of women and development process
      • Women’s work – an essential key to run society
      • WAD- Critical Assessment of Women
      • Negated the underscore of domestic chores of women
      • Accepts women as significant participants in the community
    • ✓Critique in Point
  • ✓Gender and Development
    • Origin
      As an alternative to the WID focus this approach developed in the 1980s.
    • Theoretical base:
      Influenced by socialist feminist thinking.
    • Focus:
      *_ Offers a holistic perspective looking at all aspects of women’s lives.
      *_ It questions the basis of assigning specific gender roles to different sexes
    • Contribution
      Does not exclusively emphasize female solidarity- welcomes contributions of sensitive men.
      Recognizes women’s contribution inside and outside the household, including non-commodity production.
    • Features
      • Components of Gender and Development
      • Holistic approach of Gender and Development
      • Examining- how gender is being constructed
      • Focus on the exclusive female solidarity
      • Concentrated both on social and reproductive roles
      • An approach to emancipation of women
      • Effort to organize women for making stronger political voices
      • GAD opposes the public and private distinction.
    • ✓Critique in Point

 3- Conclusive Remarks

Answer to the Question

“I get to go to school.

I get to go to school and feel guilt for leaving my mother to work all day.

I get to go to school and risk being raped by my teacher.

I get to go to school and I am afraid to walk home by myself.

I get to go to school but I do not believe I will find a job.

I get to go to school but I will be married next year.”

Introductory Remarks  

There are three distinct methods for analyzing and combating gender inequality: WID, WAD, and GAD. These ideas came into being in the 1980s and 1990s as feminist activists and academics started to examine the disparities that exist between men and women in a variety of spheres of life, including as politics, the economics, and social standards. The early focus of WID, or Women in Development, was on including women in development-related policies and initiatives. According to this strategy, gender-based disparities should be addressed through conventional development measures in order to achieve successful development results. Women and Development, or WAD, expanded on the WID strategy by highlighting the need to confront and alter the gender power structures that uphold women’s subservient status. By highlighting the significance of identifying and resolving the ways in which gender intersects with other types of inequality, such as race, class, and sexuality, GAD, or Gender and Development, advances the analysis of gender inequality. GAD also emphasizes the importance of involving men in campaigns to advance gender equality, acknowledging that men’s perspectives and experiences also have an impact on how others perceive women.

Analyzing Contemporary Approaches

✓ Women in Development:

  • Women’s Role in Economic Development work- Catalyst to WID approach

After Ester Boserup’s “Women’s Role in Economic Development (1970)” was published, the phrase “women in development” began to be used in the early 1970s. Boserup was the first to thoroughly outline the sexual division of labour that predominated in rural economies on a worldwide scale. She explored the disparate effects of the changes that traditional agricultural practices underwent as cultures modernized.

  • Cultural modernization- a way to undermining the old cultural practices

Boserup explored how traditional agricultural practices changed as cultures modernized and the differing effects those changes had on the work done by men and women. She came to the conclusion that while shifting agriculture is practiced in sparsely inhabited areas, women typically perform the majority of the agricultural work there, whereas males typically do so in more densely populated areas where ploughs and other basic technologies are employed. Finally, both men and women participate in agricultural work in areas with intense irrigation-based production.

  • Gender as an independent variable

 Boserup’s study was noteworthy since it was the first to systematically incorporate gender as an independent variable in analysis while drawing on data and evidence that had long been available to social scientists and development planners. Although Boserup’s research was later criticized for oversimplifying the nature of women’s roles and work.

  • Scholarly attention to division of labour

 It was influential in bringing scholarly attention to the sexual division of labour and the differences in how development and modernization strategies affected men and women differently. International Development’s women’s committee first used the word “WID” as part of a deliberate plan to alert American policymakers to the new evidence produced by Boserup and others. American liberal feminists who pushed for governmental reforms to ensure that women would be better included into economic systems began to express a group of shared issues that they loosely referred to as “Women in Development” or WID. They prioritized egalitarianism and the creation of plans and initiatives that would lessen the obstacles faced by women in the labour force and put an end to prejudice against them tactics and initiatives to reduce and eliminate the disadvantages faced by women in the workforce   prejudice directed at them. In the 1950s and 1960s, conventional wisdom held that “modernization,” which was typically equated with industrialization, would improve the standards of living of developing countries.

  • Manifested relationship between Women in Development and Modernization

The WID perspective was closely linked with the modernization paradigm which dominated mainstream thinking on international development during the 1960s and into the 170s. It was thought that by drastically expanding education systems, pools of skilled laborers and managers would develop, allowing for the industrialization and modernization of civilizations that had previously been static and largely agrarian. The advantages of modernity, such as increased living standards, wages, education, appropriate health care, etc., would “trickle down” to all facets of society with the rise of these countries’ economies. The policy recommendation for this point of view, which was additionally backed by the “human capital” perspective of thinkers like the American economist Theodore Schultz, was to extensively invest in the establishment of education systems and to develop strong cores of workers and managers (1961). Many researchers had begun to doubt this modernization perspective by the 1970s. It was asserted that despite appearances, women’s relative status had not changed much during the previous two decades. Even evidence indicating certain women’s positions had slipped was available (Boserup, 1970; Tinker and Bramson, 1976; Boulding, 1976; Kelly and Elliot, 1982). For instance, the rise in educational expansion generally had a lower likelihood of benefiting women.  Women typically had lower enrollment rates, particularly at the postsecondary level.

  • Women’s progress seen through lens of Women in Development

For the first time, the condition of women in various economic sectors was examined separately from that of males under the umbrella of WID acknowledging that women’s experiences of development. It became acceptable for the study to concentrate explicitly on women’s experiences and views because of the institutionalization of the fact that women’s growth and of societal progress differed from that of males.

Different approaches of WID:

  • Welfare approach
  • Equity approach
  • Anti-poverty approach
  • Efficiency approach
  • Empowerment approach

Welfare: Focus on disadvantaged women, especially those who play the duties of wife and mother. During colonial times, this was the only strategy, and many missionaries preferred it.

Equity: Emphasise gender parity and equitable distribution of development’s benefits

Anti-poverty: Women are targeted as the most impoverished people, with a focus on activities that generate revenue and provide access to resources that can be used to generate income, like training and micro-finance.

Efficiency: Places a strong emphasis on the necessity of women’s participation in order for development to be successful and effective; presumptively, this will lead to greater equity. They are most likely to be helpful when efforts to promote women are motivated by a desire for projects with stronger and longer-lasting outcomes, or by a drive to utilise all production factors more efficiently. Development agencies presently favour this strategy the most. Focus on improving women’s ability to assess their own circumstances, make their own life decisions, and determine the course of society. Where a human development and rights-based approach to development is predominant or sought, it is most likely to be helpful.

Critique in point on Women in Development

By the middle of the 1970s, it was evident that women had frequently suffered worse outcomes as a result of the development and modernization initiatives of the previous ten years. WID concentrated on promoting inclusion and increased involvement. It didn’t inquire as to why women’s status was frequently slipping or the causes and characteristics of their subjugation. It frequently lacked historical context and shared many of the flaws in the modernization paradigm. WID also tended to disregard or downplay the reproductive role of women in favour of focusing on them as producers.

✓Women and Development

It is not always evident where the WID and WAD techniques diverge. The WAD technique first appeared historically in the second part of the 1970s. Although Marxist analysis and dependency theory have generally paid astonishingly little attention to concerns of gender subordination, they both provide as some of the foundation for this theory. The explanatory shortcomings of modernization theory and its propagation of the notion that women’s absence from prior development initiatives had been an unintentional oversight gave rise to the WAD approach.

  • Interaction of women and development process

Midway through the 1970s, Achola Okello Pala observed that the idea of “integrating women into development” was intimately related to the upkeep of Third World and particularly African countries’ economic dependence on industrialized nations. Instead of concentrating solely on methods for integrating women into development, the WAD viewpoint also examines how women and development processes interact.

  • Women’s work – an essential key to run society

Its starting point is that women have always been “integrated” into their societies and that the work they do inside and outside of the home is essential to keeping those societies functioning, but that this Integration mainly serves to maintain the current global structures of inequality.

  • WAD- Critical Assessment of Women

In comparison to WID, WAD provides a more critical assessment of the position of women, but it does not fully analyses how patriarchy, various production modes, and women’s subordination and oppression are related. The WAD perspective implicitly presupposes that as and when international arrangements grow more egalitarian, the situation of women will improve. While this is happening, the under-representation of women in social, political, and economic systems is still predominantly seen as an issue that can be fixed with carefully planned intervention techniques rather than with more substantial changes to the social relations of gender.

  • Negated the underscore of domestic chores of women

The south has often been subjected to development planning that has a tendency to impose western prejudices and assumptions, and duties performed by women in the home, including those related to social reproduction, are given no economic value. The work required to maintain a family, such as childrearing and child rearing, housework, caring for the sick and elderly, etc., has traditionally been viewed as falling under the “private” domain and being outside the scope of development projects intended to increase income-generating activities. In essence, this reflects the propensity of both modernization and dependency theorists to rely solely on economic or political economy analyses and to undervalue the contributions of the so-called “softer” social sciences.

  • Accepts women as significant participants in community

It accepts women as significant participants in their communities’ economies. The maintenance of their societal institutions depends heavily on the work that women conduct in the public and private spheres. It examines how women are included in development and how that supports the existing global mechanisms of inequality

Critique in Point on Women and Development

  • Fails to examine the connection between patriarchy, various production methods, and women’s subordination and oppression.
  • It discourages a strong analytical focus on women’s issues apart from men’s since both sexes are perceived to be disadvantageous because to an oppressive global structure based on class and capital, regardless of gender.
  • It exclusively focuses on the creative function of women at the expense of the reproductive aspects of their job and lives.
  • It assumes that women’s status will improve as international systems become more egalitarian.
  • The relationship between gender roles is not challenged by WAD.

✓Gender and Development

The 1980s saw the emergence of the growth and development method as a replacement for the earlier WID focus. By connecting the relations of production and reproduction and taking into consideration all facets of women’s life, it has filled the theoretical gap left by modernization theorists and has its theoretical roots in socialist feminism.  Socialist feminists have focused attention on the social relations of gender, challenging the legitimacy of roles that have been assigned to both men and women in various societies, and have identified the social construction of production and reproduction as the root of women’s oppression.

  • Components of Gender and Development

Some of the most important components of the Gender and Development Approach have been noted by Kate Young (1987).

  • Holistic approach of Gender and Development

The GAD approach begins with a holistic perspective, looking at “the totality of social organization, economic and political life in order to understand the shaping of particular aspects. This is perhaps the approach’s most significant feature.

  • Examining- how gender is being constructed

Women themselves are not the focus of gender and development, rather, it examines how gender is constructed in society and how men and women are given different roles, obligations, and expectations.

  • Focus on the exclusive female solidarity

The Gender and Development approach welcomes the possible contributions of males who share a concern for issues of equity and social justice, in contrast to the emphasis on exclusively female solidarity that radical feminists strongly value.

  • Concentrated both on social and reproductive roles

The GAD approach does not exclusively concentrate on the reproductive or productive sides of women’s (and men’s) lives. It examines the type of work done by women both inside and outside the home, including non-commodity production, and rejects the public/private dichotomy, which has frequently been used as a tactic to undervalue the caretaking and maintenance work done by women on families and households. Both the socialist/feminist and GAD approaches pay close attention to how women are oppressed in the home and go into the so-called “private sphere” to examine the presumptions that underpin romantic relationships.

  • An approach to emancipation of women

The state’s role in advancing women’s emancipation is also given more emphasis by GAD, which sees it as the state’s responsibility to offer some of the social services that women have traditionally provided on a private and individual basis in many nations. 

  • Effort to organize women for making stronger political voices

The Gender and Development approach emphasizes the need for women to organize themselves for a stronger political voice and views them as agents of change as opposed to passive recipients of progress. Although it acknowledges the significance of both class affinities and distinctions, it makes the case that the patriarchal worldview oppresses women both within and outside of classes. As a result, socialist feminists and academics using the GAD approach are investigating the relationships between and tensions between gender, class, race, and development.

GAD opposes the public and private distinction.

  • It specifically addresses the sexism of women in the home by intruding on the so-called “private sphere.”
  • It emphasizes how important it is for the state to support women’s independence by offering social services.
  • Women are viewed as active agents of change as opposed to passive recipients of development aid.
  • It emphasizes the necessity for women to get together in order to have a stronger political voice.
  • It acknowledges that patriarchy oppresses women both within and between classes
  • It focuses on improving women’s legal rights, especially land and inheritance law reform.
  • It discusses upending the male and female power structures that currently exist in society.

Critique in Point on Gender and Development

Women in the South have made some of the scathing critiques of GAD and its forerunners, contending that they are a reflection of the concerns and presumptions of Western feminists. Women from the “Third World” are “homogenized” and treated like “victims” of their own cultures, which undermines their agency. Instead of blaming their subjection on the traditional construction of gender in their own communities, these critics contend that it is a result of colonial and post-colonial exploitation


In conclusion, a better understanding of the intricate and multifaceted nature of gender inequality has been made possible by the ideas of WID, WAD, and GAD. WAD and GAD recognised the need to address the underlying causes of gender inequality and the interlocking forms of oppression that have an impact on women’s lives, whereas WID concentrated on the inclusion of women in development policies and programmers. These methods have also shown how crucial it is to involve males and question the conventions and gender roles that perpetuate inequity. WID, WAD, and GAD have aided in the establishment of more inclusive and sustainable development policies and practices by recognizing the various experiences and needs of women and by advocating for gender equity and social justice. To achieve gender equality, however, there is still much work to be done, and it will be crucial to continue using and developing these strategies in order to guarantee that women’s rights are acknowledged and realized and that development benefits all members of society, regardless of gender.

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