The poverty of neoliberalized feminism gender equality in a 'best practice' large-scale land in...

Kristina LANZ
Elisabeth PRüGL
Jean-David GERBER

Feminist ideas have entered the neoliberal agricultural development agenda, including increasingly ubiquitous public-private partnerships and businesses. Rhetorically committed to gender equality, these new development actors have reduced equality to a matter of numbers, seeking to include women in their projects while disregarding intersectionally gendered power relations that suffuse any development context. This article seeks to illustrate how such power relations inhabit business-led development projects. Based on ethnographic research of a 'best practice' large-scale land investment in Ghana's Volta Region, we argue that a narrow focus on including women and superficial Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) promises fail to address intersectional inequalities because they pay inadequate attention to local institutions for resource management and the power relations they embed. Focusing on gender equality without regard to local institutions at best serves to empower a few well-connected women and at worst acts as a cover-up of highly exploitative practices.