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Gender Equality and Sustainable Development: A Pathways Approach

image of Gender Equality and Sustainable Development: A Pathways Approach

The challenges of building pathways to sustainability and enhancing gender equality are both urgent. This work explores why they must be addressed together, and how this might be done. It puts forward a ‘gendered pathways approach’, as a conceptual framework for addressing the interactions, tensions and trade-offs between different dimensions of gender equality and of sustainability. The publication provides a historical review of how diverse concepts—or narratives—about women, gender and sustainability have emerged and come to co-exist. It acknowledges tensions and trade-offs in different pathways and addresses the policy and political challenges of transforming pathways towards greater gender equality and sustainability. Ultimately, the authors argue, feminist movements and collective organizing, emerging in diverse ways and places across the world, offer the greatest hope both for challenging unsustainable pathways and for charting new ones that lead us in more sustainable, gender-equal directions.

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Introduction

The twin challenges of building pathways to sustainable development and enhancing gender equality have never been more pressing. As the world embraces and begins to implement Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era, this paper shows why each is so important, but also why they must be addressed together – in ways that fully embrace the politics of gender and of sustainability. It does so by putting forward a new ‘gendered pathways approach’ as a conceptual framework for addressing the interactions, tensions and trade-offs between different dimensions of gender equality and of sustainability – asking consistently ‘sustainability of what, for whom?’.1 We locate this approach in relation to evolving feminist and environment-related theories and practices over the last few decades. We show that integrating insights from feminist political economy and political ecology provides a guide to analysing current pathways of change and their implications and to appreciating alternatives.

English

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