Mainstream(ing) Has Never Run Clean, Perhaps Never Can: Gender in the Main/Stream of Development

  • Sara de Jong


It might be a daunting task in general to respond to Maitrayee Mukhopadhyay’s insightful and influential article about the limited effects of gender mainstreaming in development. However, this assignment is especially formidable given the fact that her article, with the beautiful evocative title ‘Mainstreaming Gender or “Streaming” Gender Away: Feminists Marooned in the Development Business’, stood at the beginning of an extensive and rich debate that has unfolded over the last ten years since the article’s publication in 2004. Concerns about the failure of gender mainstreaming to have the radical transformative impact it had been anticipated to offer post-Beijing have been expressed in numerous writings (Debusscher 2012; Lang 2009; Moser and Moser 2005; Parpart 2014; Walby 2005b) and in special issues dedicated to the topic (Feminist Legal Studies 2002; Gender and Development 2005; International Feminist Journal of Politics 2005; Social Politics 2005). Contributions to this debate have not limited themselves to diagnosing the (symptoms of the) problem and lamenting the dilution of gender mainstreaming once operationalized in NGOs and institutions, but consequently also discuss the possible reasons for its lack of success as well as potential solutions to make gender mainstreaming more effective.


Gender Equality Development Business Social Politics Unequal Power Relation Feminist Legal Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ahmed, S. (2007) It’s a Sun-Tan, Isn’t it? Auto-biography as an Identificatory Practice, in H. S. Mirza (ed.) Black British Feminism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Bacchi, C. and J. Eveline (2003) Mainstreaming and Neoliberalism: A Contested Relationship. Policy and Society, 22(2), 98–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baines, D. (2010) Gender Mainstreaming in a Development Project: Intersectionality in a Post-Colonial Un-Doing? Gender, Work and Organization, 17(2), 119–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beveridge, F. and Jo Shaw (eds) (2002) Special Issue: Gender Mainstreaming in European Public Policy, Feminist Legal Studies, 10(3).Google Scholar
  5. Council of Europe (2014) Gender Mainstreaming. (accessed 2 June 2014).Google Scholar
  6. Daly, M. (2005) Gender Mainstreaming in Theory and Practice. Social Politics, 12(3), 433–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Debusscher, P. (2012) Mainstreaming Gender in European Commission Development Policy: Conservative Europeanness? Women’s Studies International Forum, 34, 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Jong, S. (2009) Constructive Complicity Enacted? The Reflections of Women NGO and IGO Workers on their Practices. Journal for Intercultural Studies, 30(4), 387–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eveline, J. and Carol Bacchi (2005) What are we Mainstreaming When We Mainstream Gender? International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4), 496–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fraser, N. (2009) Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History. New Left Review, 56 March–April, 55–60.Google Scholar
  11. Fraser, N. (2013) Fortunes of Feminism, From State Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis. London: Verson Books.Google Scholar
  12. Hafner-Burton, E. and Mark A. Pollack (2002) Gender Mainstreaming and Global Governance. Feminist Legal Studies, 10(3), 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kothari, U. (2005) Authority and Expertise: The Professionalisation of International Development and the Ordering of Dissent. Antipode, 37(3), 425–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lang, S. (2009) Assessing Advocacy: European Transnational Women’s Networks and Gender Mainstreaming. Social Politics, 16(3), 327–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mannell, J. (2012) ‘It’s just been such a horrible experience.’ Perceptions of Gender Main-streaming by Practitioners in South African Organisations. Gender and Development, 20(3), 423–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Moser, C. and Annalise Moser (2005) Gender Mainstreaming since Beijing: A Review of Success and Limitations in International Institutions. Gender and Development, 13(2), 11–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mukhopadhyay, M. (2004) Mainstreaming Gender or ‘Streaming’ Gender Away: Feminist Marooned in the Development Business. IDS Bulletin, 35(4), 95–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mukhopadhyay, M., Gerard Steehouwer and Franz Wong (2006) Politics of the Possible: Gender Mainstreaming and Organisational Change — Experiences from the Field. Oxford: Oxfam Publishing.Google Scholar
  19. Parpart, Jane L. (2014) Exploring the Transformative Potential of Gender Mainstream-ing in International Development Institutions. Journal of International Development, 26, 382–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Piálek, N. (2008) Is this Really the End of the Road for Gender Mainstreaming? Getting to Grips with Gender and Institutional Change, in A. Bebbington, S. Hickey and D. Mitlin (eds) Can NGOs Make a Difference? The Challenge of Development Alternatives. London: Zed Books, 279–297.Google Scholar
  21. Porter, F. and Caroline Sweetman (eds) (2005) Special Issue: Mainstreaming a Critical Review. Gender and Development, 13(2).Google Scholar
  22. Prügl, E. (2011) Diversity Management and Gender Mainstreaming as Technologies of Government. Politics and Gender, 7, 71–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rao, A. (2006) Making Institutions Work for Women. Development, 49(1), 63–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rees, T. (2005) Reflections on the Uneven Development of Gender Mainstreaming in Europe. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4), 555–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Smyth, I. (2007) Talking of Gender: Words and Meanings in Development Organisations. Development in Practice, 17(4–5), 582–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Spivak, G. C. (1990) The Postcolonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues (ed. S. Harasym). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Spivak, G. C., S. Danius and S. Jonsson (1993) Interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in Boundaries 2, 20(2, Summer), 24–50.Google Scholar
  28. Spivak, G. C. (1999) A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Squires, J. (2005). Is Mainstreaming Transformative? Theorizing Mainstreaming in the Context of Diversity and Deliberation. Social Politics, 12(3), 366–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sweetman, C. and Fenella Porter (2005) Special Issue: Gender Mainstreaming: A Critical Review. Gender and Development, 13(2).Google Scholar
  31. Tiessen, R. (2004) Re-Inventing the Gendered Organization: Staff Attitudes towards Women and Gender Mainstreaming in NGOs in Malawi. Gender, Work and Organization, 11(6), 689–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walby, S. (2005a) Gender Mainstreaming: Productive Tensions in Theory and Practice. Social Politics, 12(3), 321–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Walby, S. (2005b) Introduction: Comparative Gender Mainstreaming in a Global Era. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4), 453–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Walby, S. (ed.) (2005c) Special Issue: Gender Mainstreaming. Social Politics, 12(3), 321–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Walby, S. (ed.) (2005d) Special Issue: Comparative Gender Mainstreaming. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 7(4), 453–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Sara de Jong 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara de Jong

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations