Gender and development

bridging the gap between research and action

Agnes R. Quisumbing, Bonnie McClafferty
issue brief

Practitioners may ask why they should address gender issues in development. Aside from the obvious answer—that gender equality is a basic human right and in that sense is integral to development—many disparities in development outcomes stem from gender differences. While practitioners are often knowledgeable about general development or technical issues, many lack the understanding and resources necessary to effectively integrate gender issues into specific projects and public policy. Further, many practitioners are not convinced of the importance of gender issues, or they may find it difficult to navigate approaches in the context of development.

Gender considerations can affect the allocation, targeting, and control of resources; hence, an understanding of how resources are allocated within households can profoundly affect policies associated with the design and implementation of development projects. For specific projects, on the other hand, incorporating research findings can increase their effectiveness.

Recent research undertaken by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides both empirical evidence of the effects of gender and intrahousehold issues on development intervention outcomes, and specific guidance on how to incorporate research findings effectively into development projects and policy instruments. The challenge is to bridge the gap between research and action. It is vitally important—regardless of whether gender issues are taken into account—that programs and policy instruments be backed by rigorous research. A recently published guide for practitioners, Food Security in Practice: Using Gender Research in Development by Agnes R. Quisumbing and Bonnie McClafferty, embodies the efforts of IFPRI researchers to maximize the relevance and accessibility of their findings to their audiences.