Women`s Empowerment through Cooperatives: A Study from Women`s Perspectives

Caroline Marie Victoria Masabo

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

story of women in Rwanda is a testimony of a subordinate group, which has made important strives for their equality, after a conflict has mixed up gender roles and relations in Rwanda. Post- genocide, women played a major role in the reconstruction and reconciliation process of the country and hence contributed to the national economy and welfare. Nevertheless, Rwanda is a society still characterised by a patriarchal social structure that subordinates women eco-nomically, socially, culturally and politically to men. Cooperatives have been acknowledged as a valuable tool to achieve both, changing the socio-economic role of women and foster their economic position and hence fostering women`s em-powerment process. This paper puts forward how cooperatives have received extensive recog-nition as institutional mechanisms to empower women. Therefore, the paper explores the role of cooperatives in the Rwandan context. To identify their potential as economic agents of change; leading to economic independence, promoting social inclusion, and ultimately contrib-uting to women`s empowerment by giving them the ability to make strategic choices in their lives. In order to capture how this can be comprehended a survey among 18 women in Rwanda has been conducted to answer how cooperatives facilitate the process of empowerment for their women members. In addition, supportive sub-questions help to relate contextual factors such as the development discourse, specifics about cooperatives and specifics about the Rwandan environment to women`s empowerment. To advance an academic and theoretical lens, Kabeer`s concept of women`s empowerment and Moser`s gender needs theory are combined to create a unique analytical framework giving space to women`s voices. As part of the methodological framework, an interpretive approach inspired by a social con-structivist ontology has been combined with different research techniques to capture and steer the analysis of women`s empowerment through cooperatives in Rwanda. From a social con-structionist perspective, the main interest has been to investigate: the phenomenon of women`s empowerment, the underlying structures in society, and the way cooperatives impact the mech-anism of the women`s empowerment processes. Besides social constructionism, feminist re-search principles have inspired not only the theoretical but also the methodological foundation. Feminist principles are embodied in a strong concern and interest for women by using them as valid sources of information.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2015
Number of pages119