Current NGO and development agency strategies to support women’s political empowerment are based on two assumptions: firstly, that women’s increased access to resources, especially education, will lead to their increased representation in political positions; and secondly, that governments are genuinely committed to leading national programmes of action for women’s advancement. Both of these assumptions are seriously mistaken. All development organisations supporting women’s empowerment must recognise the true obstacles women face in gaining political power, and develop programme strategies to overcome them. In addition to focusing on the need to get women into government, NGOs could also usefully support women’s organisations that are engaging in direct action – a key strategy which enables women to push for policy changes from outside government.
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