Development Myths in Practice: the ”Femininisation” of Anti-poverty Policies and International Organisations. The Cases of Brazil, the Philippines and Mozambique

What are the effects of gender-based international development programs in Brazil, the Philippines and Mozambique?


Over the past ten years an ever growing epistemic community has advanced a paradigm considering women as the principal agent in the struggle against poverty. In Southern countries, it is embodied in a specific series of policies, projects and programs, supported by the major international organisations and defended by NGOs and opinion leaders. Recent research shows to what extent this issue embraces contradictory aspects.

In many cases the “feminisation of the struggle against poverty” entails strengthening the stereotyping of women and an increase in the traditional roles of “care” attributed to women. These ambiguities were reinforcing the need for international comparative studies attempting to answer some central questions: How and in what way has this type of discourses, policies and programs been adopted by countries in the south? What are the strategies of different kinds of actors concerning the implementation of Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) programs? How are these narratives entangled with local cultures and the specific structures and gender relations in which they are embedded? How do people from different communities react to the implementation of CCT programs and why? What are the results of these programs in different southern countries? Have they reinforced or deteriorated the position of women in society and have they contributed effectively to fight poverty? Under which conditions are these programs efficient? The research project was based on a comprehensive study of the implementation of Gender Discourses and Cash Transfers programs in three countries: Brazil, the Philippines and Mozambique.

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Research team

Francois-Xavier Merrien
University of Lausanne

Randolf David
Principal Member
University of the Philippines

Lucciana Jaccoud
Principal Member
Instituto de Pesquisa Economica Aplicada

Antoine Kernen
Principal Member
Centre pour les études asiatiques

Mario Lisbôa Theodoro
Principal Member
Instituto de Pesquisa Economica Aplicada

Didier Péclar
Principal Member

Georges Chapelier
Associated Member
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Milko Matijascic
Associated Member

Ilario Rossi
Associated Member
Institut des sciences sociales Anthropole

Roland Sigg
Associated Member
International Labour Organisation