A community health promoter teaches mothers with small children about nutrition at her home hear Mityebili, Uganda. © Stephan Gladieu/World Bank
A community health promoter teaches mothers with small children about nutrition at her home hear Mityebili, Uganda. © Stephan Gladieu/World Bank
Think piece

Why look back? It's not where we are going: The value of history in understanding gender and development

Author: Caroline Harper
Published by: ALIGN
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Cover of think piece

‘Don’t look back – it’s not where you are heading’ seems to be a typical sentiment for policy and practice when thinking about gender norm change with most suggestions for interventions based on – at best – a cursory glance at the far past and a more in-depth study of very recent experiences. This think piece highlights why looking back is crucial for providing insights into how to address gender inequalities, looking at past struggles and achievements on the long road towards gender justice. To do this, this piece looks at the actual experience of achieving change, the effort involved in shifting norms, the time it takes and the areas that have proved most resistant.

History and change graphic

History and change

This paper is part of a series of publications relating to ALIGN’s History and change project.

Find out more about the series