Gender and Governance

31 Dec 2003


In an effort to promote the much-neglected concept of gendered governance and facilitate women’s participation, this report breaks conceptual ground and provides new dimensions in achieving a greater voice for women in government.

The present volume is an outcome of a partnership between the the UNDP India Country Office and the Bureau of Development Policy (BDP) of UNDP, New York. As part of an ongoing effort to add to the body of concepts and best practices of governance, BDP has been commissioning a series of global papers and country case studies on different aspects of governance. As a partner in this endeavour, the India Country Office took the lead in putting together a comprehensive global review of issues around the theme of gender and governance.

This is a theme that holds a unique relevance for India, where gender and decentralisation have been identified by the Government of India as the two focus areas for the UN Development Assistance Framework, which provides the basic underpinning for the work of the UN System in India. Again, the publication of these papers by the UNDP India Human Development Resource Centre (HDRC) reflects the recognition of the mutual interdependence of processes of gendered governance and human development.

The three discussion papers in this volume are the outcome of a one-year long collaborative exploration of the multiple factors that influence the process of engendering governance in complex societies, in particular the changing roles of various actors including women’s movements, the state and civil society. Dr. Amrita Basu, Dr. Yasmin Tambiah and Dr. Niraja Gopal Jayal are all notable scholars and strong proponents of a gendered vision of governance.

Professor Martha Nussbaum, who has written the introduction to this volume, is an active participant in the process of bringing a gender and human development perspective into global debates on governance. Working from different locations but engaging in an animated process of dialogue and discussion, the writers have each contributed thought-provoking papers that break new conceptual ground and add new dimensions to ongoing debates on key issues of governance. The essays have been meticulously edited and prepared for publication by Elena Borsatti.

We have benefited greatly from the review and comments provided by Lina Hamadeh-Banerjee, Policy Advisor, BDP and support and encouragement from G.Shabbir Cheema, Director of the erstwhile Management Development and Governance Division (MDGD) of BDP. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Gender Advisor, UNDP India was responsible for creatively energising the process, and colleagues in the UNDP India Country Office participated in the consultations and commented on the drafts. Seeta Prabhu and her team at the HDRC guided the final stages of the process that has culminated in the publication of this volume.

UNDP India is committed to supporting the Government of India in revisioning governance from a gendered perspective and in facilitating and promoting women’s participation in governance. This publication is a reflection of that commitment.

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