A great deal of legal and policy foundation has been laid for promoting gender mainstreaming in development and, since the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing, there have been serious attempts to implement this strategy at various levels. Plausible as the concept may be, this article contends that the status of women can only be advanced through gender mainstreaming strategies that are adapted to each specific culture, place and political context.
Following the African Union’s declaration of 2010-2020 as the African Decade for Women, some critical questions engage the dominant ideas of gender equality and mainstreaming in the continent’s ongoing development initiatives. Should men be integrated into development programming and policies relating to women? How can male integration be made most beneficial to the goal of transformative development in Africa? Highlighting relevant normative and institutional interventions, the article demonstrates how an inclusionary approach to gender mainstreaming for development in Africa resonates in such areas as education, sexual and reproductive health, fatherhood and families, work and economy, conflict resolution and domestic violence.