Development Alternatives

Update: August 2017

New contribution to Feminist Development Alternatives series

The Gender & Development Network (GADN) is pleased to publish a new contribution to the Feminist Alternatives project. Advancing feminist alternatives in the context of neoliberalism discusses how breaking down the gender divison in primary responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work is crucial to any vision of a feminist development paradigm. The authors, Francesca Rhodes and Chiara Capraro, argue that feminist advocates must resist the fragmentation of this agenda by neoliberal fundamentalist discourse, and offer strategies to do this.

You can download and read the paper here.

Update: June 2016

GADN releases Feminist Development Alternatives Pack

The Gender & Development Network (GADN) is pleased to release a series of papers as part of its Feminist Alternatives Project.  The introductory blogpost on this topic is a great place to start, and share your thoughts and contributions.

GADN's Feminist Alternatives Project was created in response to our members’ desire to improve the effectiveness of their organisations in achieving gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights, and to understand better the alternatives that are promoted by feminists globally.

This project has evolved over a number of years and has encompassed an international online discussion and many internal debates and papers amongst GADN members, their southern partners and other allies. It became clear that a single paper, peppered with caveats, was not the way forward so we decided to produce a collection of papers allowing the project to encompass diverse perspectives.

These contributions are just the start; indeed, we do not pretend that they are anything more than a rather arbitrary collection of feminists whose work we admire. We hope that this modest beginning will inspire others to add their contributions.

There are seven papers in the pack, each of which should be read in conjunction with the Overview and the Glossary.

Download all seven papers, together with the Overview and Glossary, here.

Download each paper separately here:

You can join the discussion by sharing your thoughts and contributions on our blog page. For more material on this topic, please see AWID's Feminist Propositions for a Just Economy discussions.

Online discussion

A two-day online discussion on feminist alternatives to development was held on 5th and 6th December 2012. The discussion generated a rich and wide-ranging debate about feminist visions of society and the changes needed to bring about those visions.

The synthesis paper available to download below summarises the main themes emerging from this online discussion. 

Download 'Feminist Alternatives to Development Online Discussion Report'.

About the Project:


To promote alternatives and solutions to current agendas and problems in women’s rights and gender equality and development by:

  • identifying alternatives by seeking the views of women in the global South and through discussion and research

  • developing a strategy for promoting these alternatives including the preparation of a policy briefing

From Alternative Visions to Alternative Policies

The current strong focus on women and girls and unprecedented level of apparent political commitment among donors is most welcome for striving towards gender equality. It potentially provides a highly conducive environment for increased funding for women, girls and gender equality, and transformational programming in donors’ country offices. However, many donors’ gender strategies and programmes continue to focus on meeting women’s practical needs in daily life. While important, such interventions will not necessarily transform the power relationships between women and men, which is essential to achieving gender equality. Hence while programmes of this kind are needed, we believe that they are not sufficient for achieving gender equality and the rights of women and girls.

On the other hand, while the importance of the strategic needs of women and girls and transformation in gender power relations have been widely recognised by feminist scholars and practitioners and elsewhere, much less has been done to translate these, and women’s own priorities, into practical policy proposals and programmatic solutions which can be implemented at national or international level. We think of these as alternative visions of development.   

The Development Alternatives project seeks to bridge this gap between current ways of developing development policy and programmes and current donor thinking, and these alternative visions. This will be done by firstly collating and further articulating these alternative development visions and the overall changes needed to achieve these. Then, the changes in policy and practice needed to achieve these alternative visions will be identified and articulated in a policy briefing targeting policy makers and practitioners. This will include defining the areas where transformative change is most needed, as well as identifying the necessary processes needed to achieve this change.