Although the empowerment of women is a prominent goal in international development, feminist development professionals, activists, and scholars remain deeply dissatisfied with the limited extent to which women’s empowerment is actually achieved. Their experiences and analyses raise questions about the connections and disjunctions between discourse, institutional practices, and everyday life. A major effort to reform development aid guided by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness raises new questions about the place of gender in development practice. Drawing on recently conducted research on women and development in Kyrgyzstan and using a range of institutional texts, we interrogate how development professionals and activists engage with the aid effectiveness discourse. Our analytic approach, institutional ethnography, shares with work on governmentality an empirical focus on practices undertaken by diversely situated people and how these practices constitute a particular field of action. Institutional ethnography directs analytic attention to the operation of texts as local and translocal coordinators of people’s everyday activities. The product of this coordinated work is what we call, in this case, the development institution. For those concerned about women and development, we see the usefulness of making visible how global governance is accomplished in both enactments of and resistance to institutional practices, but in ways that do not necessarily benefit women.
Aid Effectiveness and Women’s Empowerment: Practices of Governance in the Funding of International Development
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