Situated meanings: understanding gender work in Ghanaian NGOs

Warren, Hannah Marie (2015) Situated meanings: understanding gender work in Ghanaian NGOs. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the ways in which ‘gender issues’ are incorporated into, and understood within, two Ghanaian NGOs. It contributes to an extensive body of literature which examines the take up and implementation of gender issues by development institutions. It argues that much of this literature tends to evaluate the gender work of development institutions against normative criteria; assessing whether ‘gender issues’ and/or a ‘gendered approach’ are ‘successfully’ and ‘correctly’ understood, incorporated into, and implemented by such institutions. This often concludes there is a disjuncture between what should and what does take place.

I focus instead on providing an emic account of the gender work of these two organisations. Based on 10 months of ethnographic fieldwork, and focusing specifically on the theme of gender violence, I explore the particular ways in which staff understand, and therefore implement, their ‘gender work’. What emerges might be viewed by some, specifically from an outside (‘Western’) perspective as at odds with a perceived ‘correct’ meaning and intent of ‘transnational’ and ‘feminist’ gender goals. However, I argue that, when viewed from an emic perspective, what takes place in this particular instance, is not a ‘conscious’ translation of transnational gender ideas into ‘something else’, or a rejection of such ideas. Nor is it necessarily a ‘mediation’ between two sets of conflicting ideas – the ‘local’ and ‘transnational’. Rather, what occurs is a specific understanding of ‘gender’ ideas and concepts in ways that make sense to those involved; in relation to the broader context in which they live and work, the ideas that they hold, and their ways of seeing the world. I suggest that this is fundamentally shaped by, and must be understood in relation to, the normative assumptions and hegemonic discourses which pertain within a particular context, and the everyday lived gendered experiences of the staff involved. In this case, particular ideas and practices regarding marriage and the everyday usage of certain words are of central importance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD4801 Labour. Work. Working class > HD6050 Classes of labour Including women, children, students, middle-aged and older persons, minorities
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions and public administration (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.) > JQ1870 Africa
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2016 14:23
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2016 14:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/60545

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