Research topic: Gender and Development
Research on gender requires an understanding of what women and men do and how they relate to each other, but also an understanding of the ideas, conceptions and socio-material contexts that motivate and organize gender roles.
Photo: Cecilie von Hirsch.
Changing gender relations
Gender roles, relations and perceptions are challenged by changing global, national and local conditions. Because societies are gendered, the ways women and men, relate to change will be gendered too, even when innovations are conceived of as “gender neutral” and not directed particularly towards men or women. For example, land reforms that are seen as neutral may reproduce or even aggravate gender inequalities when implemented. The same may happen with the introduction of new “gender neutral” technology. Technology cannot be understood independently of social and cultural contexts because, from their production to their uses in everyday life, technologies are intimately tied to human life and the organisation and dynamics of social life, for example in the form of gender division of labour.
This view on social change is associated with an approach that assumes that the variations in organizational forms and cultural patterns are to a large extent the outcome of the different ways in which men and women in a given context organizationally and cognitively deal with new situations and accommodate themselves to changing circumstances. Moreover, it draws the attention to the ways in which individuals and groups can contribute to and indeed modify patterns of local, regional and national development.
Gender research at SUM
The gender research conducted at SUM spans from international gender and development issues to ethnographic studies of male and female identities in changing social and natural environments. It focuses on new energy technology in the South and in the North, biotechnology in agriculture, political mobilization, migration, and reproductive health at global and national levels (in Africa, Asia and Latin America).