From the 1990s many development agencies moved away from poverty targeting of development interventions to a focus on catalysing economic growth and markets through engagement with the private sector.
There are often a range of possibilities for increasing incomes of medium and large scale businesses. Benefits were then assumed to ‘trickle down to’ or ‘pull up’ the poorest through increasing employment, developing markets for products and providing affordable products. Business techniques for market and competition analysis and strategic planning in multinational, large and medium enterprises were adopted and further elaborated by development agencies.
Some of this development has included voluntary ethical codes of conduct of varying types, even where businesses are outside the fair trade framework.
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Mainstream economics and development theory has failed to take into account the gender dimensions of all these - even in pro-poor strategies.
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- Significant increases in incomes may require linkages outside the local area, particularly in the case of rural areas.
- Access to profitable markets is often determined by entrenched power relations.
- Market constraints on women are often related to underlying gender norms and inequalities which limit their resources, mobility, networks and voice in development of markets.
- Accessing more distant markets may require women and also men to be away from their families at the expense of children and family wellbeing.
- Ethical codes are often more for promotional purposes and are rarely integrated into core business planning.