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Re-Examining 'Difference' and 'Development': A Note on Broadening the Field of Gender and Development in Japan

Discussion Papers


August 2008


It is the author’s position that the framework for WID/GAD, as academic field and practice concerned primarily with developing countries should be broadened so as to incorporate Japan’s own gender and development issues in its scope. Unlike other developed countries, activists and scholars in Japan rarely connected, as was also the case with the fields of women’s/gender studies and WID/GAD. However, this was not due to any lack of interest among Japanese women regarding the lives of women in developing countries. Rather the points of fissure were the notions of ‘difference’and ‘development’ held by Japanese women. These analytical concepts were narrowly defined, which resulted in limited interaction between discourse on women’s issues in Japan and WID/GAD related to ‘other’ women. By re-examining these notions and looking more deeply into perceived differences in the local context of ‘development’, not only can we strategise on ‘differences’ in such a way that we draw strength from the very fact of being different, but also prevent ‘differences’ from being used as grounds for discrimination. As a whole, we could gain substantially by broadening the field of Gender and Development and, as such, it is imperative that this field be broadened with urgency as development itself changes in this ever-interconnected world.

Keywords: Gender and Development, Japan, difference, women’s activism
JEL classification: O10, Z00

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