UNRISD Research Programme on Gender Expands; Interview with Shahra Razavi; New Publications: Issue 16 October 2013
UNRISD is an autonomous institution within the UN system that carries out multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


UNRISD’s programme of research on the gender dimensions of development has expanded with the launch of a new project that explores when and why states respond to claims for gender equality, with research in India, China and Indonesia. A methodology workshop held in New Delhi developed a common research strategy and a rigorous framework for comparison across the selected countries and issues.

The UNRISD research project is motivated by the observation that despite progress towards gender equality in some areas of policy, advances have been limited in others. With a better understanding of why some issues gain policy traction while others are neglected or obstructed, advocates for women’s rights will be better equipped to articulate their demands and strategize for gender-egalitarian change.

Read more.


"Debates around the post-2015 development agenda constitute a decisive moment for women’s rights advocates."

Shahra Razavi was a Research Coordinator at UNRISD from 1993 to 2013, when she left to join UN Women as Chief of Research and Data. In an interview with UNRISD, she looks back at her two decades with the Institute. She also talks about the post-2015 agenda, the challenge of demonstrating the impact of research, and UNRISD's unique position in the UN system.

Read the interview.



Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy - Event Brief
Multiple global crises and heightened concerns about the social and environmental consequences of market- and corporate-led development have reignited interest in "alternative" production, finance and consumption. Increasing attention is focusing on social and solidarity economy (SSE), a term that is gaining traction in many regions and forums around the world. On 6–8 May 2013, UNRISD convened a conference on the topic, co-hosted with the International Labour Office (ILO). This four-page brief summarizes the conference discussions.

The brief is also available in French and Spanish.

The Political Economy of Social Pension Reform in Asia
Katja Hujo and Sarah Cook Social pensions are expanding in rapidly ageing Asia as a means to protect older persons from poverty and social exclusion. Although social pensions are viewed as useful instruments to reduce old-age poverty and to include those traditionally excluded from contributory pension insurance, little attention has been paid to why certain initiatives get onto political agendas, who or what drives reform, and whether proposed reforms are implemented and consolidated, particularly in the Asian context.This brief, based on a chapter by Hujo and Cook in Social Protection for Older People in Asia (ADB 2012), is jointly published by the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth, the ADB and UNRISD.


Seeing Big: Transformative Social Policies in Small States
Naren Prasad, Nicola Hypher and Megan Gerecke This paper summarizes the findings of the UNRISD–Commonwealth Secretariat research project on Social Policy in Small States. The findings are based on the in-depth country studies of several small states and of the cross-cutting issues that they face. It looked at small states in the Caribbean region (Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago), the Pacific region (Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), the Indian Ocean (Mauritius and Seychelles) and the Mediterranean region (Malta). The findings of the papers are examined and compared here to draw out common lessons on how small states can effectively promote developmental, democratic and socially inclusive economies.

What Kind of Welfare State is Emerging in China?
Stein Ringen and Kinglun Ngok China is joining the group of countries that have reasonably comprehensive systems of social protection in place. In 2010, the National People’s Congress adopted the first national Social Insurance Law, the culmination of a process of radical social reform. In considering what kind of welfare state is emerging in China, the paper looks at two hypotheses: is China producing a welfare state of its own kind, possibly a “socialist” welfare state? Or, if it is reproducing a conventional welfare state, what kind of previous experience elsewhere is it replicating?


Good Jobs and Social Services: How Costa Rica Achieved the Elusive Double Incorporation
Juliana Martinez Franzoni, Diego Sánchez Ancochea Few developing countries have succeeded in simultaneously providing good jobs and access to social services for all. Large informal sectors and segmented social policies that provide benefits to only a small minority are among the problems that have hampered developing countries' ability to secure the double incorporation to the market and to social services. This book reviews Costa Rica's experience as one of the few successes. The authors focus on the role of the state in expanding public employment, promoting small firms and cooperatives, and creating universal social services. In explaining why the state implemented these policies, the authors highlight the role of a new elite of small and medium producers, and of international ideas.

International Political Economy Classics: Corporate Social Responsibility and Regulatory Governance: Towards Inclusive Development?
Peter Utting and Jose Carlos Marques (eds.) The corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement has been instrumental in raising awareness that firms have responsibilities other than to their owners and the bottom line. Yet despite all the talk about the importance of stakeholders, transparency, corporate citizenship and sustainability, the developmental and regulatory impacts of CSR remain highly questionable. With a new foreword and preface, this IPE Classic assesses the global rise of private regulation and CSR from the perspective of social and sustainable development. It examines why the experience of CSR pales in comparison with the promise, what needs to be done to address CSR's "intellectual crisis", and forms of corporate accountability and regulation more conducive to inclusive patterns of development.

Workshop Report

Gender and Agriculture after Neoliberalism?
This is the report of a workshop organized on 19-20 July 2012 to help UNRISD and the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (IHEID) assess knowledge gaps and define new perspectives to understand the relationship between the rapidly changing policy landscape, and transformations of gender power relations in the countryside. The workshop aimed to flesh out key research questions with a view to developing a research proposal. It sought to pool the knowledge of a group of researchers from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe who are studying the gender dimensions of agrarian change in a variety of developing countries from diverse disciplinary standpoints.


Global Social Policy Forum - New Directions for Social Policy: Towards Socially Sustainable Development

Global social policy – understood as global aspects and dimensions of social policy, as well as social aspects of global policy making, including social and health dimensions of sustainable development — is moving up the development agenda. It is highly relevant in the context of the responses to global crises and in the design and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. This forum aims to contribute to framing the post-2015 development agenda, and to strategic priorities for Finland’s membership in the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD) 2014-2017; contribute to UNRISD's research on new directions in social policy; and identify, mobilize and involve relevant partners in global social policy dialogues and networks. It is an invitation-only event.


Founding Meeting - UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy is a concrete result of the UNRISD Conference, Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy, held in May 2013. The Task Force is an initiative in response to the fact that the consideration of SSE within the UN system tends to be fragmented, and has not matched the growing interest in this field within other sectors of the development community. As the United Nations discusses the contours of the post-2015 development agenda, the Task Force will provide inputs to the UN system regarding the development potential and policy implications of SSE.

The Legend of China's Growth

China has experienced an unprecedented three decades of annual economic growth of around 10 percent. What has fuelled this boom? And can it be sustained? Prof. Li Yang examined these issues at an UNRISD seminar earlier this year. His paper and presentation are now available. You can also listen to the podcast.

Listen to the podcast.


New Call for Expressions of Interest: Politics of Domestic Resource Mobilization for Social Development

UNRISD invites expressions of interest from researchers to expand its pool of country studies in its ongoing research project on the politics of domestic resource mobilization for social development. In the current context of global fiscal austerity and declining aid flows, this project seeks to inform global debates on the political and institutional contexts that enable low-income countries to mobilize domestic resources for social development. UNRISD invites scholars with a proven track record in research and publication on issues related to domestic resource mobilization, taxation, public finance and governance, aid and political economy, to submit an expression of interest. Countries under consideration include El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay.

Read the project proposal and download the application form.

UNRISD’s Website Has a New Look!

As our faithful readers have noticed, UNRISD's website has a new look! It also has some new features: it is easier to find your way around the wide range of UNRISD's current and past work with clearer navigation by research theme; the search function has been improved with an integrated Google search; and job vacancies can be accessed from anywhere on the site using the quicklinks at the bottom of the page. There is also a carousel on the homepage that highlights new material on the website.

Check out our new website!

"Visions of Change" Artwork Selection Unveiled

Earlier this year UNRISD launched Visions of Change, a call for submissions of artwork, which encouraged artists worldwide to contribute to the Institute’s 50th anniversary celebrations. This initiative is part of the "UNRISD Classics" project, which will culminate in the online publication of a three-volume series that compiles a selection of UNRISD’s most influential and ground-breaking research. The goal of the call was that these "visions of change", illustrating key themes of Inclusive Social Policy, Sustainability and Gender, would be used as cover images for each one of the volumes. UNRISD received more than 150 submissions from all five continents.

The three artists whose artwork will grace the covers of the UNRISD Classics are Ima Montoya (Inclusive Social Policy), Kuros Zahedi (Sustainability) and Sana Jamlaney (Gender).

UNRISD Evaluators Pay their First Visit

The evaluation of UNRISD for the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is now underway. Two representatives of the evaluation team made their first visit to Geneva on 18-19 September to kick off the project. On their orientation visit, Ben Shaw and Annette Boaz met UNRISD staff in order to explore the Institute’s strategic objectives, delivery mechanisms and how current challenges are being addressed. As part of their systems approach to impact evaluation, they undertook a stakeholder mapping exercise with staff to help assess how UNRISD interacts with its international and local partners.

Memorandum of Understanding between CASS and UNRISD

On 3 July 2013, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and UNRISD signed a Memorandum of Understanding which for both parties represents the beginning of a fruitful partnership. The Memorandum of Understanding is intended to strengthen scholarly cooperation between the two organizations by means of collaborative activities such as joint conferences and consulting activities; collaborative research and the exchange of researchers; and joint publications.

Unpaid Care Work, Women’s Rights and Poverty: Human Rights Council Side Event Features Two UNRISD Panellists

UNRISD Director Sarah Cook and Visiting Research Fellow Magdalena Sepúlveda were panellists at a discussion titled Unpaid Care Work, Women’s Rights and Poverty: Making the Connection on 18 September 2013, at the United Nations, Geneva. Ms. Sepúlveda, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in addition to her role at UNRISD, officially supported the event, co-organized by women’s NGOs Associations Points-Coeur and Make Mothers Matter International.The event featured other high-level panellists from the United Nations and from civil society.

UNRISD Researcher Gives Keynote at Jakarta Conference on Child Poverty and Social Protection

UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo delivered the keynote speech at the Conference on Child Poverty and Social Protection, organized by the SMERU Research Institute, the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) and UNICEF, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Katja Hujos’s keynote speech focused on how a transformative approach to social policy, including social protection programmes, can support a process of social and economic change towards better societies, placing children’s rights and well-being at the core of national development strategies.

UNRISD Contributes to Library Materials Distributed by Tufts University

UNRISD is partnering on an initiative led by the Global Development And Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University to distribute learning materials free of charge to thousands of libraries in 138 countries. The initiative, The Social Science Library: Frontier Thinking in Sustainable Development and Human Well-Being (SSL), is a contribution to the UN Decade for Education for Sustainable Development. It is providing access to important research-based knowledge and ideas, giving special attention to those institutions that are most in need of library resources.


What Do Cooperatives Have to Do with the Post- 2015 Development Framework and Proposed Sustainable Development Goals?

Emery Igiraneza Cooperative enterprises are instrumental in providing opportunities for productive employment as well as offering services such as health care and education. They are often rooted in local communities, making them a sustainable option for achieving development. However, in UN processes crafting the post-2015 framework have so far given only patchy recognition to the current and potential role of cooperatives in achieving sustainable development, reducing poverty and creating employment is patchy. To remedy this situation, the ILO, in collaboration with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), UNRISD and other partners, has launched an initiative to assess and promote the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.

Click here to take the survey in English, French or Spanish.

Think Pieces on Social and Solidarity Economy

This series of think pieces by scholars and practitioners working on a broad range of issues within the field of SSE is one of several activities in the UNRISD inquiry on "Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy". These contributions present in a succinct manner a variety of perspectives, including the resilience of cooperatives in times of crises; community development banks; complementary currencies; business models for social enterprises; and SSE and indigenous peoples.

A new think piece is available in Spanish by Peter Utting: Economía Social Solidaria: Un Camino hacia un Modelo de Desarrollo Alternativo?. It is based on Social and Solidarity Economy: A Pathway to Socially Sustainable Development?

Photo: Matt Beckwith-CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Banner photo: Katya Trischuk via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)


United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)
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