Journal article in Progress in Development Studies on the Gates Foundation’s work on gender equality. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is often criticized for furthering an instrumentalist and neoliberal approach to development and gender. However, in a new article in Progress in Development Studies, Adam Moe Fejerskov shows how these ideas and practices of the Gates Foundation may never reach the ground and implementation. In this case in a project on women’s access to land in Odisha, India.
The article shows how the exceedingly instrumental approach of the Gates Foundation leads it to adopt a set of narrow and reductionist project objectives, in an attempt to exert control, that in fact has a counterproductive effect. Instead of ensuring control, these objectives actually provide room for other organizational actors to reconstruct projects and ultimately produce transformative effects.
In the case of the Gates Foundation, this means that the strong neoliberal and instrumentalizing logics rarely make it all the way to implementation. The transformative changes that are palpably produced locally ends up being far removed from what the foundation had imagined and what the critics had expected.