In August and September of 1995, the Fourth UN Conference on Women was held in Beijing, China. The Conference, and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Conference held simultaneously in Huairou, signaled a substantial shift in the paradigm of gender and development. When these events concluded, an unprecedented Platform of Action was signed by 178 Governments to advance the issue of the development of women and more than 3000 NGOs pledged to work in their respective countries to support this effort. Since the First UN Conference on Women was held in Mexico in 1975, these conferences have played a substantial role in moving the development community toward this commitment.

During the past several decades development strategies have not always resulted in improving the conditions or the quality of women's lives. The current Gender and Development strategy allows for gender planning and analysis which assesses the roles of women and men, the relationships between them and the structure of power these relationships create. Methodologies for gender planning and analysis provide a tool for looking at programs and projects through a gender lens and have advanced substantially the ability of project designers and implementers to develop programs which support the development of women and improve the quality of their lives. However, this advancement does not automatically translate to commitments on the part of development organizatioins to incorporate the methodology into their organizational priorities, practices and behaviors.

The area of institutionalizing gender as a principle is one that has only recently been explored. This paper discusses some of the theories offered by gender experts, academics and feminists as well as the experiences of individuals who have been working on this issue within organizations. The main point of this paper is to share the experience of an individual who has been working with an IPVO for the past two years to incorporate the current thinking and the experience of other organizations into the organizational culture. In other words, to put gender on the organizational agenda.


Business Administration, Management, and Operations | Women's Studies