By: N Kabeer
346 pages, no illustrations
Reversed Realities uncovers the deeply entrenched, hence barely visible, biases which underpin mainstream development theory and account for the marginal status given to women's needs in current development policy. Naila Kabeer traces the emergence of 'women' as a specific category in development thought and examines alternative frameworks for analysing gender hierarchies. She identifies the household as a primary site for the construction of power relations and compares the extent to which gender inequalities are revealed in different approaches to the concept of the family unit. The book assesses the inadequacies of the poverty line as a measuring tool and provides a critical overview of an issue that has been fiercely contested by feminists: population control. While feminists themselves have no unanimous view of the meaning of 'reproductive choice', Kabeer argues that it is imperative for them to take a lead in the construction of population policy.
This vigorous reassessment of development theory and policy concludes with a comparison of different approaches to gender training and a plea for the transformation of the institutions which determine development policy. A splendid synthesis of the new feminist development economics that challenges gender bias in both theory and practice. - Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts "As women around the world prepare for the fourth world conference in Beijing in 1995 they will find this book an invaluable resource. It deconstructs the official discourses of social planners and development economists, creating space for a critical and practical engagement with existing power structures, with a view to enabling women to be agents of their own development." - Diane Elson, University of Manchester
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