This introductory chapter argues that many participatory development intiatives do not deal well with the complexity of community differences, including age, economic, religious, caste, ethnic and, in particular, gender. The fields of participatory development and gender have remained far apart, both in theory and practice, despite their shared goals of social inclusion and societal transformation. The chapter discusses how participatory development has come to pay so little attention to community differences, focusing on the problem of simplistic notions of community, participation and empowerment. It then describes how development organisations are slowly waking up to the importance of these issues. Finally, it summarises the collective insights from the contributors to the book "The Myth of Community".
The myth of community