Critically evaluating rural women’s participation and empowerment : An interdisciplinary feminist framework for research and analysis
Lennie, June (2006) Critically evaluating rural women’s participation and empowerment : An interdisciplinary feminist framework for research and analysis. In Behera, M. C. (Ed.) Globalising Rural Development : Competing Paradigms and Emerging Realities. Sage, New Delhi.
Community development is increasingly using participatory processes that aim to be inclusive and empowering. However, researchers have found that such processes can have contradictory effects. Australian research has highlighted the significant leadership of rural women in sustainable community and economic development and in the adoption of new communication technologies such as the Internet. A focus on gender in participatory development may therefore lead to more effective programs and policies.
This chapter outlines an interdisciplinary feminist framework for critically evaluating the participation and empowerment of rural women. This framework was found effective in evaluating an Australian project that aimed to enhance rural women’s access to communication technologies and to empower its participants. Its multiple theoretical and methodological approaches are outlined. The framework advocates an analysis of diversity and difference and the macro and micro contexts. Some principles and strategies for rural women’s inclusion, participation, empowerment, and for participatory feminist evaluation are outlined.
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