From economic participation to enjoyment and personal independence: Rural women and empowerment in the south of Chile
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Cecilia Fernández M.
We explore whether and how the economic participation of rural women in female entrepreneurship allows them to visualize and develop strategic gender interests (SGIs) and, consequently, seek to get involved in more equitable familial and community relationships. We focused our study in the Program for the Formation and Training for Rural Women implemented in the Araucanía region of southern of Chile, the poorest region in the country. The research was designed using grounded theory methodology to understand the process of economic participation of women in the program of study, as well as the relation that this process has with the development of the participants' SGIs. This study follows sixty-four female program participants and five productive organizations, along with the program coordinators and other collaborating technicians of the program studied, through semi-structured interviews and participant observations. We found that although women participants learned to manage their entrepreneurship, they continued to be restricted by gender-based division of labor. However, as a result of their economic participation, women developed an overall enjoyment and a sense of personal independence. The findings showed that the use of the concept of SGIs could be useful to account for rural women struggles to become empowered in terms of gender. © Common Ground Research Networks, Gloria M. Mora, Juan Carlos Peña, M. Cecilia Fernández, Óscar G. Vivallo, Jorge D. Constanzo, All Rights Reserved
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