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Gender Equality and Sustainable Development: A Pathways Approach

image of Gender Equality and Sustainable Development: A Pathways Approach

The challenges of building pathways to sustainability and enhancing gender equality are both urgent. This work explores why they must be addressed together, and how this might be done. It puts forward a ‘gendered pathways approach’, as a conceptual framework for addressing the interactions, tensions and trade-offs between different dimensions of gender equality and of sustainability. The publication provides a historical review of how diverse concepts—or narratives—about women, gender and sustainability have emerged and come to co-exist. It acknowledges tensions and trade-offs in different pathways and addresses the policy and political challenges of transforming pathways towards greater gender equality and sustainability. Ultimately, the authors argue, feminist movements and collective organizing, emerging in diverse ways and places across the world, offer the greatest hope both for challenging unsustainable pathways and for charting new ones that lead us in more sustainable, gender-equal directions.

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Elaborating a gendered pathways approach

Returning to our definition, the challenge is to identify and build pathways of sustainable development – that is, development that ensures human well-being, ecological integrity, gender equality and social justice, now and in the future. Pathways, as defined and illustrated earlier, are alternative directions of intervention and change, underpinned by particular framings and narratives that embody selective values, knowledge and power relations. Pathways can emerge from the unintended actions of multiple actors, coming to align in particular directions. They can also be shaped and steered through active intervention by citizens, governments and other actors. As previous sections have shown, there are urgent needs to challenge current unsustainable pathways of production, consumption and distribution and to recognize and support alternatives.

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