This editorial introduces a journal devoted to examination of the implications of cultural issues on gender and development work. The secondary status of women is one of the few universals in the world, with biology used as an excuse (yet the only constraints placed upon a woman by biology are when she is pregnant or breast feeding). Constraints differ among societies, and cultural practices which appeal to tradition reinforce the power of men. Patriarchal societies foster the notion of an ideal woman to insure the paternity of children and preserve the families. Because women have primary responsibility for children, they are also perceived as the guardians of the very culture which reduces their status. Rape and domestic violence are used to enforce women's conformity to a traditional role. Violence against women is also used as a weapon of warfare while religious fundamentalists manipulate religious texts to insure women's subordination. Participation in development efforts, however, can allow women to question their marginalization and to become positive role models for other women. The arts and the media can also be used to challenge the status quo. The views of women from southern nations have also been marginalized by the north, and people with formal education wield more power than those with experience but no qualifications. Multicultural ideals require development agencies to listen to historically ignored voices, to make a longterm commitment to cultural change, and to employ local people. Charges of cultural imperialism can be refuted if the aspirations of southern women are included on the development agenda.