Recently I attended the United Nations Global Order Programme: ‘How Research Can Support and Strengthen the UN Launch Event’. This is a research group at the University of Reading and the event covered the topics of human rights, peacekeeping and development as components of the UN and the key role that research has to play in ensuring that these are undertaken in the most appropriate and efficient way possible. Research is essential for making progress in international development. Throughout the day, a theme that continued to come up was the idea that the language we use around development and human rights needs to be flexible and we have to have an open mind about what is conceptualised as developmental issues, as well as the way that we define as success. It was discussed how the implementation of both the SDGs and the Sendai Framework signals a shift in the standards that the world expects. The onus has now changed from being solely on states and the UN, to looking at the role of civil society and research communities. A large proportion of the discussion was around women’s issues in development, which ranged from babies born in conflict situations to providing sanitary products in disaster situations. For a long time these issues have been not been viewed as being a high priority of development and are only recently being given specific attention within the context of development.
As a result of this, the research community has a responsibility to shed light on those situations and to create a space in which women feel empowered to tackle the multitude of issues they face within the Global South. Practical action must also be taken, but research is an important first step to creating a change in the agenda. This shows that when looking to address the key questions that face development, there needs to be an understanding of the importance of shining a light on the issues that women face specifically, through research. Research can be conducted in a number of different ways, however in the instance of development participatory research methods may prove to be the most useful, since the community can be involved in the process and therefore the results will be the most reflective of the situation on the ground. This helps to achieve a sustainable form of development, which will benefit communities in the future.
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