When “Bright Futures” Fade: Paradoxes of Women’s Empowerment in Rwanda

Citation:

Berry, Marie E. 2015. "When 'Bright Futures' Fade: Paradoxes of Women’s Empowerment in Rwanda." Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 41 (1): 1-27.

Author: Marie E. Berry

Annotation:

Summary:
"Recent qualitative work has challenged many of the impressive development indicators that the Government of Rwanda has presented to the international donor community. This article continues in this mold, employing qualitative methods and a bottom-up perspective to illustrate three paradoxes of development efforts that have emerged within different social institutions—including the family, the education system, and the labor market. Each of these paradoxes serves as an example of how efforts to promote women have failed to fundamentally transform ordinary women’s lives. In the first, patriarchal processes conflate adulthood with marriage, denying unwed women the same rights as their married counterparts and thus reinforcing women’s dependence on men. In the second, well-intentioned education policies promoting girls have unintended effects, which ultimately create new forms of oppression for women. Finally, the ambitious development enterprise led by the government is only made possible through the repression of some of its citizens, which essentially entrenches their poverty even more deeply. Combined, these three paradoxes suggest that the very efforts intended to remedy women’s subordination have indirectly reinforced it in particular ways. This article joins a tradition of feminist scholarship that cautions against an easy reading of efforts to promote social change" (Berry 2015, 3). 
 

Topics: Democracy / Democratization, Development, Education, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Governance, Households, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2015

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