Women’s Spaces, Gender Mainstreaming, and Development Priorities: Popular Participation as Gendered Work in Rural Bolivia


Hippert, Christine. 2011. “Women’s Spaces, Gender Mainstreaming, and Development Priorities: Popular Participation as Gendered Work in Rural Bolivia.” Women’s Studies International Forum 34 (6): 498–508. 

Author: Christine Hippert


This paper examines Bolivian popular participation as a gendered process. By comparing and contrasting ethnographic examples of development work in a rural community, this article examines participation in its cultural context and engages indigenous conceptions of participation, gender, and development. Contrary to research and popular assumptions, this study demonstrates that women are extremely visible in development contexts. But poor rural women appeal to more holistic understandings of development that are predicated upon the understanding of women's roles as wives and partners in relationships with poor, indigenous men — another vulnerable, but untargeted, group. In order to foster inclusion, collaboration, and engagement in popular participation, women attempt to both maintain conventional gender norms at the same time that they struggle to transform them. This case study shows that development work is identity work, or the negotiation of varied perceptions of appropriate gendered identities to successfully target groups for development attention or funding. Because of its inattention to the intersectionality of class, ethnicity, and gender and how these positionalities are negotiated in development work, gender mainstreaming has had little effect on rural women's lives except to overburden them.

Topics: Development, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gender Mainstreaming, Indigenous Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia

Year: 2011

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