Solidarity Economy for Development and Women's Emancipation: Lessons from Bolivia


Hillenkamp, Isabelle. 2015. “Solidarity Economy for Development and Women’s Emancipation: Lessons from Bolivia.” Development and Change 46 (5): 1133–58. doi:10.1111/dech.12193.

Author: Isabelle Hillenkamp


This article critically assesses the relationship between the solidarity economy (SE) and women's emancipation through a case study of SE groups in El Alto, Bolivia. It highlights the fact that the failure to harness the potential of SE as a development alternative and as a means for the emancipation of women can partly be attributed to the neglect of gender-related issues in the study of SE. Following an examination of SE in the Bolivian context of class and ethnicity, the article deepens the analysis by focusing on gender. It shows that the significant participation of women in SE is a response to the double imperative imposed by the current processes of monetization of production and home-based reproduction. Compared with their insertion into the market individually, participation in SE allows women to increase and smooth their income. In general, however, their income remains lower than that of men and also below the poverty line. This reflects a continuing gender asymmetry and points to the limitations to what solidarity among poor women can achieve. The article concludes with an assessment of the possibilities as well as the difficulties inherent in a new pathway to women's emancipation through SE, a pathway which would necessitate a reorganization of the social sphere of reproduction.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Economies, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Livelihoods Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia

Year: 2015

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