Women across the world bear a disproportionate burden of poverty in terms of material deprivation, discrimination, and denial of their basic rights. This means they often have little opportunity to influence the processes and institutions which shape their lives. The under-representation of women’s voices in decision-making and agenda-setting at all levels mean that their interests tend to be under-represented in critical policy-making fora, and their skills, experience, and knowledge under-utilized. This entrenches both gender inequality and the poverty confronted by women and their communities on a daily basis. There are, however, many examples where women have found the courage and the opportunities to challenge the status quo and become active citizens and successful leaders in political, economic and civil institutions, with inspiring results. This book brings together lessons and experience in building up women’s involvement from Oxfam GB and its partners. Women’s Leadership and Participation illustrates methodological approaches and learning points, covering a range of issues, from women’s participation in national elections to female decision-making in community livelihood initiatives. It asks the questions: what are the structural barriers to women’s leadership and participation? How can women be encouraged to take up leadership positions? Once they are leading, how can women (and men) be supported to carry out their roles effectively and for progressive purposes? The case studies in this book are also available as individual papers.
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