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Abstract

Women's empowerment faces different challenges depending on the socio-political context. In Mexico, a country with several gender gaps, grassroots women face more obstacles than women in urban zones. However, instead of assuming the main obstacles that prevent rural women's social and political empowerment in rural zones, we asked them directly. From July until December 2014, we undertook a six-month social research project that included 20 focus groups and 51 interviews in 10 different Mexico municipalities. Our primary purpose as women and researchers was to provide tools for catalyzing women's empowerment in pre-selected Mexican communities. Inserted into the Capabilities Approach, our research aimed to promote the idea of agency as defined by Amartya Sen: "being free to do and achieve whatever goals or values a person sees as important" (Sen 1985, p. 203). Other theoretical insights from the Capabilities Approach we considered were those by Martha Nussbaum, Solava Ibrahim, and Stanley Sharaunga. We worked under the aegis of the Red Mujeres, Desarrollo, Justicia y Paz, one of the branches of Unión Nacional Integradora de Organizaciones Solidarias y Economía Social A.C. (UNIMOSS), a Nation-wide Mexican NGO devoted to promoting human development among grassroots and indigenous populations. This NGO has been working for more than thirteen years to empower women; however, before our intervention, there was no research about the effects of their work. The project's financing was thanks to the Proequidad Program (INMujeres), which conducted the bidding process, which we won.

Note on the Author

Dr. Diana Ibarra is a feminist philosopher, professor of ethics, sexual politics, and gender studies at Universidad Panamericana, Mexico. She was part of the Social Council for the National Institute for Women in México from 2012 to 2020. Diana has a particular interest in applying the Capabilities Approach to grass root projects to promote women’s and girl’s empowerment through self-consciousness. With a special interest in fighting gender violence, she has participated in several projects regarding femicide, human trafficking, and sexual harassment. Her email is dibarras@up.edu.mx.

Natalia Stengel is a feminist sociologist and art historian who is convinced of the fact that feminist art and artivism can modify the culture towards a social order less adverse for women. She is studying a PhD in Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies at King’s College London. She has experience as a social researcher, being the coordinator of the local diagnosis for Human Trafficking in Querétaro and ‘obstacles for empowering grassroot women’. She has participated in different forums and projects about Mexican feminist art. Her email is Natalia.stengel_pena@kcl.ac.uk.

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