Lecture Abstracts

The preliminary lecture abstracts below reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the doctoral course. We have invited guest lecturers from an array of disciplines who will present different approches to women, energy and health.

Exploring the Transformative Potential of Gender Mainstreaming in International Development Institutions

Jane L. Parpart, Research Professor, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, McCormack Graduate School University of Massachusetts Boston, USA.


Gender mainstreaming (GM) has become a central pillar of development. Yet, the implementation of GM policies have largely been disappointing. Proposed 'solutions' have brought little new to the table. Drawing on critical development analysis and feminist writings, this lecture explores the transformative potential of GM in international development organisations in an increasingly complex, unequal and gendered world.


Technology, Expertise and International Development: Anthropological and Feminist Perspectives

Emma Crewe, Research Associate, Dept. of Anthropology and Sociology, The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, UK.


In this lecture both the broader paradigms of global development, agency and value, as well as more specific assumptions made about technology, gender and expertise, will be under the spotlight. As the championing of women and girls gains supporters in global development initiatives, how and why does gender equality work continue to be depoliticized? The standardizing norms of development and aid that arise out of neoliberalism and managerialism limit the potential for transformative change. But also part of the answer lies in the way that technology is assumed to be gender neutral despite a history differential impact. So what does a feminist approach to technology sound and look like? I will address questions ranging from the perception of success/failure, how hierarchies of knowledge are maintained and how technology production, use and marketing is gendered. In a feminist approach to technology development, the different experiences based on the age, class, culture and race of women, men and children also rise to the surface. But how can policy-makers and practitioners take account of such diversity of experience and potential demands?



Women’s Potential Empowerment from Electrification: The Case of Rural Zanzibar

Tanja Winther, Senior researcher, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, Norway.


This lecture provides an analysis of how the arrival of electricity in rural Zanzibar affected gender relations and women’s empowerment.  The ethnographic material shows that electricity positively affected development indicators such as access to clean water, health and education, particularly for women and girls, and because these public services were available for free, the benefits were evenly distributed across electrified villages.

For private consumption, only the most privileged households tended to become connected. Moreover, as observed elsewhere, electricity became a male realm of control in rural Zanzibar. The lecture attempts to account for why women, though often being eager users of electricity’s services, obtained less decision making power than men when it came to electric connections and appliances.

In this lecture I will draw upon practice theory and the notion of distributed agency, where various sources of agency are considered to produce social change: Further, I will argue that in the case of interventions, the notion of empowerment is better understood within such a socio-material approach to social change, and I discuss this in relation to the debate between Kabeer and Parpart on the significance of voice and agency versus silence.


Gender, Health and Development: Underlying Paradigms and their Implications for Interventions?

Rachel Tolhurst, Senior Lecturer in Social Science in International Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK.

This session will outline and discuss the various paradigms underlying discussions of gender in relation to health with reference to notions of ‘integrationist’ and ‘agenda setting’ approaches to gender mainstreaming, and their implications for priorities in advocacy, organising, policy and programming in public health and development. The session will explore the evidence and participants’ experiences and perceptions of the linkages between different facets of gender relations and health and the implications of different paradigms for priorities in research and development interventions. Linkages between gender, health and energy and potential directions for more integrated approaches in research and interventions will be explored.



Technocratic Approaches to Maternity Health: What is Lost?

Sidsel Roalkvam, Associate Professor, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, Norway.


'Poor Women, Good Woman: So what if Development Policy and Lived Reality on Gender-Energy-Health Perceptions don't Match?

Margaret N. Matinga, Independent Consultant, Energy and Rural Development, South Africa.


The lecture will start with a discussion of how women are framed in the development discourse, and based on these framings, how development agenda is set in the energy sector and specifically as it relates to energy and health.

It will then review the analysis of ethnographic material on how energy and health are understood and interpreted in rural Eastern Cape in South Africa. The analysis shows that residents and particularly women are marginally aware of the health impacts of firewood collection and use, but not their severity or implications in the long term. They are particularly aware and concerned about firewood collection. Beyond the negative impacts of firewood collection and use, they attach meanings to their experiences with these activities many of which are positive. The lecture then asks the question; what should matter when policy and lived realities don’t match? The lecture then discusses how anthropology and gender mainstreaming can go beyond technical solutions, to begin to reconcile what matters and hence provide relevant solutions to the problem of gender, energy and health.



Published Dec. 6, 2013 11:37 AM - Last modified Nov. 9, 2015 1:34 PM