Should Development Strategies Prioritize Women?

Development strategies have begun a shift towards providing aid almost exclusively to women, as women tend to spend aid on household, family, and community needs. This theory assumes men typically spend aid on “sin” products like alcohol.


A recent UN development report wrote about the need to focus on women to solve development issues: “Specific attention to women’s needs and contributions is typically required in order to address the array of gender gaps, unequal policies, and discrimination that historically have disadvantaged women and distorted development in all societies." 


But debate rages on whether or not to incorporate gender into development goals. 


Some argue that policies which specifically benefit women are needed, like lending that is targeted exclusively to women solidarity groups, or quotas requiring that a certain number of women be in government. Others counter that these policies are exclusionary in their own right don't help communities develop. 


What is the role of women in meeting development goals? Should development policy focus exclusively on women?

Photo Credit: PolandMFA