Gender and Fragility: Policy Responses

Background paper to the ERD2009


Wendy Harcourt – Society for International Development


Paper prepared for the Conference on “Moving Towards the European Report on Development 2009”, organised by the European Report of Development in Florence, Italy, 21-23 June, 2009


Gender and fragility is a very new area of development policy. Even though development aid frameworks call for gender-sensitive policy, in general, policy responses to fragility do not yet fully take gender into account, even though most of the “characteristics” of fragility have important gender dimensions. The paper looks at ways to strengthen gender equality policy in fragile states in Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on gender and governance, conflict and peace-building as being key to EU policy responses. The paper reflects on the policy framework in place and on the work already being carried out in five fragile countries in the region. It concludes that a major challenge for the EU is to provide the economic and political support to states and their citizens to redress gender disparities and to empower women as an important development objective and one of the most efficient ways to move out of fragility.

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