I'm writing this blog 'free solo' or 'on the fly' rather than my usual strategy of agonizing over the format, structure and wording and pasting a completed document into this blog space. I am supposed to be giving a presentation (see powerpoint slides attached above) at Dalhousie University via skype right now. The technology failed so here I am listening in and learning from others about their experiences. Hopefully, those who wanted to hear my presentation can read this summary and view the slides. I was also interviewed by a television news correspondent on some of these points earlier today so the main messages are still in focus.
In the presentation (link above), I highlight a few arguments that summarize some of the critiques that have emerged about Canada's feminist international assistance policy. I also note the limitations of a critical discourse analysis. While the policy document is important, research must also consider how the policy is (if at all) translating into practice. I provide evidence from three countries where we have collected data through semi-structured interviews (Malawi, Kenya and Uganda) and summarize the country partner perceptions of a feminist international assistance policy.
I end my presentation with a few recommendations:
1. A feminist foreign policy must be more than just a discursive shift in language. Promises must translate into practice. We are seeing some evidence now from partner organizations that can inform our work on feminist international assistance. Learning from our partners is essential for improving our policy framing.
2. Acknowledging and building on best practices in gender equality programming over the past thirty years of Canada’s development assistance programming is important for demonstrating sustained commitments and enduring leadership.
3. Defining feminism matters. Addressing a feminist approach through a transnational lens is crucial for country-level success. Distinguishing between a liberal and transformational feminist approach is essential.
4. Translating policy into practice means finding strategies that reflect feminist principles and turning them into concrete strategies for advancing gender equality. The FIAP needs to include time-bound commitments that are specific to gender equality outcomes.
5. Investing in feminist principles means ensuring that knowledge experts are actively engaged in the design and implementation of gender equality programming.
6. A feminist approach is a process-oriented approach. It means more than just what we focus on (gender equality and related approaches to address it). It also means focussing on how we do gender equality programming, how we measure changes, how we research impact, and how we make sense of those changes.
A few papers that cover some of these topics will be coming out soon. I will update this blog post with links to those articles when they are open to the public.