A vision of transformation : women's organizing and development in Guatemala
Bludau, Meaghan Beth
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This thesis presents an analysis of research I conducted with Somos Mujeres, a community-based women's organization in Guatemala. The sisters who founded the organization subscribe to a comprehensive model of women's development that attempts to address the underlying social, economic, and political factors that perpetuate women's inequality. I examine the evolution of Somos Mujeres' mission and programs, and I explore the impact of the organization on the lives of women who join. I argue that this holistic approach holds the promise of broad change. However, formidable barriers prevent the organization from implementing its mission. Lack of resources, limited access to the global handicraft market, as well as pressure from outside funding organizations undercut the organization's ability to implement its vision. This study highlights the challenges community-based organizations face at the ground level as they negotiate the development sphere. I argue that the mission and programming of Somos Mujeres is shaped not simply by the interests of the women the organization serves, but also by the agendas of powerful donor institutions, and I consider potential avenues of change that could provide community-based organizations greater power to determine the course of their own development.
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