Happy birthday to us! Gender & Development began publishing twenty-five years ago this month – way back in 1993. Its first issue focused on women and the environment. For the first two years, we published as Focus on Gender, and guest editors were hired for each issue. Two hundred copies were posted out – to ‘friends and family’ in INGOs, funders and contacts in international institutions.
Now, the journal is a global title, read online and in hard copy in over 90 countries, with 94,000 downloads last year. We’re on Twitter and we publish virtual special issues – including a planned one later this year including some of our ‘Greatest Hits’ down the decades. And you’re reading this blog on our new website.
At the start, G&D was the brainchild of Oxfam GB’s gender and development unit and marked a step up in the struggle of the women’s movements to advance equality, development and peace. Publishing a journal including voices from across the globe, inside and outside ‘international development’ was a way of getting development and humanitarianism to understand the political roots of poverty and suffering. G&D aimed to provide a forum to share feminist analysis and insights, to influence the powerful and well-connected in governments and international agencies on women’s rights.
Highlights over the years? To pick just one – I’m proud that the journal – unlike a lot of development and humanitarian programming – has always understood the difference between gender and women – and truly played a part in thinking and action around men and masculinities. It’s a theme that resonates more than ever today, in the era of Trump and Putin. Recent issues on working in fragile contexts have talked about toxic masculinities and the need to ensure all of us are able to challenge and transcend gender norms as an essential step to end poverty and realise justice.
Over our first quarter-century, the editorial advisors and I believe the journal has played a modest role in catalysing and sharing thinking on these and many other issues. I hope we don’t need to do so for another 25 years – I’d like to believe that development itself will no longer be ‘a thing’, but until that time, we’ll continue to fight for a rights-based model based on social justice and gender equality.