Struggling to Drive our Discourse: Lessons from CARE International’s Strategic Impact Inquiry. Elisa Martinez Senior Program Advisor, CARE Feminist Perspectives on Rights-Based Development September 26, 2005. Meet a Struggling Practitioner.
Senior Program Advisor, CARE
Feminist Perspectives on
September 26, 2005
I am uncomfortable about dealing with gender issues in Afghanistan - they are delicate, difficult and dangerous. Violence is associated with gender issues, before, during and since the overthrow of the Taliban. The Taliban had issued edicts against women’s employment and girls’ education, CARE staff were beaten because they are women. In some areas today, girls can be given as blood payment to settle murders or opium debts. Many girls schools have been bombed and burned. Women endure death threats in order to work. It is a dangerous country to deal with gender issues and I’m uncomfortable with it.
But Afghanistan is at the bottom of the Human Development Index for Asia – largely because of gender issues. Almost 1 in 10 women die in childbirth. 1 in 4 children die before they reach 5 years of age. There is 98 percent illiteracy of rural women in the country.
We can’t ignore these problems and we do address them as a team
We seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.
CARE will be a global force and a partner of choice within a worldwide movement dedicated to ending poverty. We will be known everywhere for our unshakable commitment to the dignity of people.
CARE International Programming Principles
1: Promote Empowerment
2: Work in partnership with others
3: Ensure Accountability and Promote Responsibility
4: Oppose Discrimination
5: Oppose Violence
6: Seek Sustainable Results
The Strategic Impact Inquiry on Women’s Empowerment:
an exercise in RBA
What contributions are CARE programs making, if any, to the empowerment of women and the advancement of gender equity?
What internal, organizational variables are associated with higher – and lower – levels of impact on women’s empowerment and improving gender equity?
SII approach and methods
Research from around the world has shown that gender inequality tends to slow economic growth and make the rise from poverty more difficult... Research also shows that women and girls tend to work harder than men, are more likely to invest their earnings in their children, are major producers as well as consumers, and shoulder critical, life-sustaining responsibilities without which men and boys could not survive, much less enjoy high levels of productivity... For all these reasons, the World Bank views the third Millennium Development Goal – to promote gender equality and empower women – as a central component to its overall mission to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth. - World Bank website on Gender and Development, July 05.
The transformation of the structures of subordination that have been so inimical to women is the other part of our vision of a new era. Changes in laws, civil codes, systems of property rights, control over our bodies, labour codes, and the social and legal institutions that underwrite male control and privilege are essential if women are to attain justice in society.
Sen, G & C. Grown. Development, Crisis, and Alternative Visions: Third World Women’s Perspectives. P. 74.
And from the point of view of impact measurement, without clarity, there is no standard of accountability.Any road will get you there...
Dialogue of Knowledges
Carrying out our own analyses, making our own decisions, and taking our own actions.
Empowerment involves poor women becoming the agents of their own development
conventions, relationships and
Array and quality of social interaction.
What are the preferences, habits, expectations that women have of their relations with other women, men, and institutional actors?
Institutions that establish agreed-upon significations (meanings), accepted forms of domination (who has power over what or whom), and agreed criteria for legitimizing the social order
Women’s Empowerment Framework for the SII
“woman in paid jobs, carrying purse, self-confident and self-reliant, who has the capacity to step out of her house and make her place in the world.” (CARE worker!)
freedom to make decisions and move around freely
woman who makes efforts, who overcomes, is strong
has educated children, can defend herself, speak freely, talks with men and can leave the village without permission and by herself.”
Internal GED/ self-reliant, who has the capacity to step out of her house and make her place in the world.” (CARE worker!)
Program Design, Analysis, Implementation, and Monitoring
Impact on Empowerment
Illustrative Evidence: Desk Reviews self-reliant, who has the capacity to step out of her house and make her place in the world.” (CARE worker!)
We know that, more broadly in CARE and certainly in the development industry where organizations as diverse as the World Bank and Women in Black deploy the language of rights, there is all manner of subterfuge around just what we mean... Empowerment, good governance, participation, sustainable development... social justice. It is far too comfortable for us to claim these virtues in our work with sliding scales and unmeasurable goals.
CARE’s drive to make our intentions explicit, to open our definitions up for public scrutiny, and to be challenged in particular by the people we claim to serve is an essential cornerstone without which rights-based approaches is just another bit of window-dressing to hide confused and contradictory agendas. We endeavor to challenge the comfortable silence that surrounds questions of accountability in our business, and that works for everyone except, of course, for the poor.
. . . if you know where you stand.