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About Us

About Us

Gender is a concept that explains the socially determined differences and meanings attached to masculinities and femininities and influences the everyday life experiences of males and females. This can include: access to jobs, education, power, resources, and decision-making. Gender is used globally as a tool of analysis to identify and address gaps in resources to achieve equality. Gender analysis can be used in various sectors to enhance the impact and effectiveness of development policies, programmes and strategies. Gender and Development is an interdisciplinary field of study that uses gender as a category of analysis to understand, challenge and change social, economic, political and environmental inequalities that undermine human rights and sustainable development.

The IGDS was first established in 1993 as the Centre for Gender and Development Studies. In 2008 The University of the West Indies upgraded the Centre to achieve Institute status, able to grant its own degrees. The Major in Gender and Development was also introduced at Mona in 2008. Today the Institute is a well-established multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary department of The UWI with four (4) Units; a Regional Coordinating Office (RCO) located in the UWI's Regional Headquarters and three campus units: The Mona Unit (Jamaica); the Nita Barrow Unit (Barbados) and the St. Augustine Unit (Trinidad & Tobago).

UWI Gender Policy

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) developed a Gender Policy to formalize its commitment to gender justice and to establish a framework for its implementation. The UWI Gender Policy was launched on May 22, 2018 at a formal ceremony at the University's Regional Headquarters in Jamaica followed by a public forum on Gender justice. 

Read The UWI Gender Policy here.


The IGDS Mission is to produce and disseminate knowledge on gender-related issues in the Caribbean, in support of the UWI's mission and Caribbean development goals.


The IGDS Vision is that in the future, all UWI graduates are trained, equipped and committed to promoting gender-sensitive development in all sectors.


About Us


1960's - 1970's

Women´s Movement creates global momentum for change.

1975 - 1985

UN Decade of Women – Activities intensified to improve the status of women and transform gender relations.


Regional seminar on The Integration of Women in Caribbean Development, in Jamaica recommends establishment of a “Women and Development Unit” at the University of the West Indies.

1970 -1982

Women in the Caribbean Project (WICP) This regional project was developed and implemented. It generated valuable data on women in the Caribbean which was published. Meeting of regional educators was hosted by WAND and WICP in Barbados that recommended establishment of a multi-disciplinary teaching programme at the UWI within a five-year period.

Women and Development Studies (WDS) Groups formed on the three UWI campuses comprised of women and men at UWI. The aims were to: increase knowledge of gender issues in the Caribbean; prepare an integrated, interdisciplinary programme of Women/Gender and Development Studies and link teaching research and outreach.


Gender in Caribbean Development, Inaugural Seminar. This was organized by the WDS Group, St. Augustine in September 1986 and it informed the agenda for change..


WDS 10th The institutionalisation of Gender and Development Studies (G&DS) took place in September 1993 when the Centre (CGDS) was established. Prior to that, the initiative for the introduction of programmes in G&DS was led by the Women and Development Studies Groups (WDSGs). The project which provided the funding to these groups was from the Government of the Netherlands (GON) which supported collaboration between UWI WDSGs and the Institute for Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague The ISS provide technical assistance and support in a variety of ways. There were two (2 )phases to this project: the first from 1986 to 1990 and the second from 1990 to 1994. One of the objectives of the project was the institutionalisation of the programme in G&DS at the UWI. .


CGDS was instituted at UWI (September 1, 1993).


UWI Mona Academic Conference entitled: Gender in the 21st Century was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of Gender and Development Studies at the UWI.


In October 2008, the UWI Council gave approved to upgrade the status of the CGDS from Centre to Institute able to grant its own undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

In November, the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Gender and Development Studies as a teaching and research Centre at the UWI was observed with a two-day regional symposium from November 10-11, 2008 in honour of Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie entitled : Gender Perspectives in Education: Caribbean Impact, Global Reach, for her contribution to scholarship and administration at the institution. It also commemorated and reflected on the genesis, development and future direction of Gender and Development Studies at UWI. The event was incorporated into the UWI's 60th anniversary celebrations.


Full implementation of the Major (BSc in Gender and Development) following approval in 2008/2009.

2013 The CGDS celebrates two decade of institutionalization with the University of the West Indies structure. 20th Anniversary Conference in honour of Professor Barbara Bailey is convened from November 6-8, 2013 on St. Augustine Campus: Continuities, Challenges and transformation in Caribbean Gender Relations.






The Institute for Gender and Development Studies is not attached to any faculty. It is an independent institute in the university - a decision taken to underline its relevance to all disciplines and to facilitate collaboration with all faculties.

IGDS consists of four (4) Units: a Regional Co-ordinating Unit (RCU) located on the University's Mona campus, and three Campus Units - at Cave Hill, Barbados; at Mona, Jamaica; and at St Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Gender Boards of Studies, chaired by the Heads of the Campus Units, function like Faculty Boards, with membership comprising staff of the Units, representatives from Faculties, the UWI Library, the student body, and co-opted members.

The Heads of the Campus Units are members of the respective campus Academic Boards. IGDS staff represent the Institute on selected faculty boards and other boards/committees on each campus. The Institute also attends meetings of the Board for Undergraduate Studies (BUS). The University Director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit is an ex-officio member of the three Gender Boards of Studies.

The IGDS reports to the Vice Chancellor through the IGDS Regional Co-ordinating Unit. Campus Units report to the Campus Principals and the respective campus Academic Boards.

The specific objectives of the Institute are to:

  • Develop an integrated, interdisciplinary programme of gender studies within the university, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. This includes facilitating the incorporation of gender analysis in all disciplines.
  • Produce and disseminate knowledge based on the generation and analysis of research data on women, men, and gender-related issues in the Caribbean.
  • Establish and maintain linkages with national, regional and international institutions concerned with Gender and Development; provide advisory services; influence policy directions and assist with capacity building in these institutions

IGDS is committed to a programme of teaching, research and outreach that:

  • Questions historically accepted theories and explanations about society and human behaviour.
  • Seeks an understanding of the world wQhich takes women, their lives and achievements into account.
  • Identifies the origins of power differences between women and men, and the division of human characteristics along gender lines.

The IGDS will achieve its mission and vision by developing and delivering multidisciplinary academic programmes that are characterized by excellence in:

    Teaching guided by feminist and gender & development theories, principles & methodologies and academic courses and programmes that respond to emerging gender and development issues in the Caribbean

    Research that investigates social, economic and political problems from a gender perspective and finds solutions to address the differential development needs and realities of males and females in Caribbean countries

    Publications that disseminate research findings

    Outreach/Public Service and Activism that promotes awareness of gender, transforms gender relations and builds capacity to mainstream gender in development policies and programmes

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