nl en

Gender & Development


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

  • Introduction to Gender Studies, or

  • Global Challenges: Diversity


This course will start with a critical assessment of ‘development’ as a particular, historically grounded and morally colored enterprise. We will assess how changing ideas about gender roles and relations prevalent in the Global North affected efforts to develop societies in the Global South. Students will not only scrutinize how certain populations came to be imagined and targeted as objects of development, but also reflect on how women and men in the Global South have understood and expressed their own ideas about social change and their place in the world. To this end, we will reflect on different ideological, instrumental and critical approaches to ‘development’ and ask what is at stake when gender is constructed as a development concern around discourses of equality, empowerment and social justice.

In the next part of the course, we will closely assess the changes and continuities in gender structures during precolonial, colonial and postcolonial eras. In this light we will broaden our scope from Western-initiated development efforts to social change more generally and discuss the diverse impacts of globalization on gendered realities in different parts of the world. Key themes that will be addressed are: poverty, sexual and reproductive health and rights, education and ‘empowerment’, environmental politics, rural and urban change, as well as work and gender relations inside and outside the home. Whereas for long (Western-trained) academics, policy makers and development professionals equated ‘gender’ with ‘women’s issues’, it is now widely recognized that masculinity is as much a social construct as femininity and deserves critical attention too. Throughout this course, we will therefore pay ample attention to ‘men’s issues’ too.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students are able to:


  • Describe how international development intervening has evolved through time and why, and how perspectives on gender within the international development sector have evolved and why.

  • Critically evaluate and compare different Western, postcolonial and feminist theories of gender and development as well as gender-related development policies and practices.

  • Embed discourses on women’s and men’s (acclaimed) structural (dis)advantages and natural strengths within broader debates on social inequalities, marginalization and empowerment.


  • Integrate and apply different concepts and theories from the course into their own work.

  • Effectively communicate their thoughts in writing (portfolio of literature reflections) and in speaking (presentations) in both the classroom and in course assignments

  • Collaborate with others as part of the group assignment


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2021-2022 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of two-hour sessions twice a week, running from week 1 to 7. The sessions will entail a mixture of plenary lecturing by the instructor or an invited expert, seminar discussions of the assigned key readings, group-presentations by students, and interactive exercises. Students are expected to prepare for class by studying the readings for each session and are invited to actively participate in the course discussions.

Assessment Method

  • Classroom participation (5%)

  • Portfolio weekly literature reflections (40%)

  • Student-led classroom discussion (20%)

  • Case studies group work (35%)

Reading list

A course syllabus with a reading list will be made available on Brightspace prior to the beginning of the course.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Suzanne Naafs,