Gender and Intergenerational Challenges to Women's Economic Empowerment Initiatives in Rwanda

Pascal Niyonkuru, Hazel Barrett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    129 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) based approaches to social justice have attracted increasing attention among scholars and development-based organisations as a means of improving women’s access to economic resources and increasing women’s empowerment. A growing literature discusses the degree to which women’s economic empowerment initiatives have been successful. Most of these studies have tended to rely on the use of economic proxies that capture the level of income earned by women. Based on qualitative information collected in five rural districts of Rwanda between July 2016 and January 2017, this paper explores how existing gender relations at the household level in rural Rwanda stimulate, promote/impede robust participation in WEE initiatives and explores the strategies used by rural women involved in WEE to challenge power relations at the household level. The research used a social justice and transformative approach, employing an interpretivist methodology and qualitative methods. Overall 126 women and 48 men participated in the research. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the information collected and three main themes were identified: cultural norms, expectations and women’s participation; women’s voice and agency from their engagement in economic activities; and the different generations of women who use different coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with adverse gender power relations. The research shows that if WEE initiatives are to reach their full potential, they must address cultural and structural norms that underpin gender inequality at the household and community levels. Thus WEE initiatives, as well as providing economic opportunities for women (and also men) must also address social justice issues that are harmful and affect women’s participation in such initiatives and should support a transformative environment with respect to gender power relationships in rural households and communities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100340
    Number of pages13
    JournalWorld Development
    Volume23
    Early online date23 Jul 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

    Bibliographical note

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    This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.

    Keywords

    • Gender roles
    • Power relations
    • Rural households
    • Rwanda
    • Social justice
    • Women's economic empowerment (WEE)

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Development
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Economics and Econometrics

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