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The hand that rocks the cradle should also rock the boat.

  • Walker, B
Published Article
Links : a newsletter on gender for Oxfam GB staff and partners
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1996
PMID: 12347697


The Gender and Development Unit (GADU) was established in 1985 at Oxfam. The unit challenged previous development assumptions; gender analysis required recognition of inequalities based on class, caste, age, and education, as well as on gender. Personal attitudes and professional actions were scrutinized, views on how to achieve gender equity differed, and accusations of cultural imperialism were made. Currently, the organization has a gender policy that is implemented by managers; the "feminist thought police" are gone. Consolidation should occur under a new team. However, questions remain concerning organizational culture; gender roles and relations are culturally determined and culture-specific. There is great diversity in this regard within Oxfam. Some field offices have "family-friendly" policies and procedures, but the "glass ceiling," albeit higher, still exists for women. The ability to read, write, and respond quickly are valued by the work culture, and there is little time to reflect. Discursive expression is unwelcome in the presence of information overload. Both men and women are now making childcare arrangements, and one of the first items on the agenda of the GADU was a workplace nursery. Its establishment came about from "corporate management recognizing the need to look at process as well as product, and from field offices shaping their work cultures to their values." The struggle for gender equality has only changed its form.

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