Development refers to the changes that advanced capitalist nations measure using a country's GDP and its degree of industrialization, urbanization, and technological sophistication and consumer orientation.
The developing countries view development as addressing survival issues like hunger and malnutrition, homelessness, unemployment and underemployment, health services and destruction of environment and political repression. Many of these problems result from the effect of unequal and dependent relationships that were established during colonization and are recreated in the present using structural adjustment programs and strategies such as IMF and World Bank.
The usage of women's unpaid and underpaid labor has been crucial to many development program and policies. In 1960s and 1970s dependency theorists argued that rapid modernization allowed industrialized nations to exploit developing ones. But modernization theorists paid little attention to women's role and needs and had assumed that they will benefit in a trickle down fashion as economies improved. These approaches were replaced by gender and development approaches that try to incorporate strategies to enhance women's position.
Many development projects based on the women in development philosophy helped women economically. But they didn't change the power relationships between women and men. In response to these limitations a new approach Gender and development was discussed by feminists and in women focused organizations during 1980s with the goal of improving women's rights and increasing gender equity.
It has been called empowerment approach because its goals are to create development projects based on the needs of grassroots women and to challenge women's subordination in households and in societies not only to provide services. Gender and Development is used by international development agencies as analytic statement rather than as a development strategy. It is easier to discuss empowerment than to implement it.
The more recent concept of gender mainstreaming which requires that a gender analysis occur within all bureaus and agencies to make gender equity has come to the forefront.