Does development work for women, or do women work for development? Making sense of the language and logic of women's empowerment and gender equality programs at UNDP Zimbabwe
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This thesis examines the internal factors that influence the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s approach to women’s empowerment and gender equality. Applying methods of content analysis and participant observation, this research explores and critiques the way in which women’s empowerment and gender equality are understood by UNDP Zimbabwe. This paper argues that, despite variation through the levels of organizational policy, UNDP Zimbabwe takes an overwhelmingly instrumentalist approach to understanding women’s empowerment and gender equality. UNDP Zimbabwe consistently justifies women’s empowerment and gender equality initiatives on the basis that they generate economic growth and promotes ineffective technical solutions to gender inequality. Three key factors that contribute to this instrumentalist approach are identified: the marginalization of gender equality experts within the organization; the simplicity of diffusing policy related to instrumentalist norms; and the organizational imperative to avoid political risk in order to promote an identity as a ‘neutral’ organization.