Advertisement

Sex Roles

pp 1–18 | Cite as

Understanding Processes of Transformative Change: A Qualitative Inquiry into Empowering Sources and Outcomes Identified by Women in Rural Nicaragua

  • Anjali DuttEmail author
  • Shelly Grabe
Original Article
  • 14 Downloads

Abstract

Despite decades of research on women’s human rights and empowerment across several academic disciplines, inequities between women and men persist at alarming rates across the globe. The current study employs an in-depth exploration of how programs intended for empowering purposes impact individual women’s lives, focusing on the transformation promoted at multiple ecological levels. More specifically, the present study assesses how women involved in a feminist organization in rural Nicaragua were affected by their participation in the organization. Via analysis of qualitative interviews with 14 women, we identify aspects of the organization most associated with actualizing transformative change and assess how involvement in the organization affected women’s sense of self and lived experience. Specifically, we identify and explicate two themes: (a) moving forward, which details aspects of the organization that facilitated positive changes for women, and (b) feminist autoconocimiento, which involved developing an understanding of oneself as capable of offering valuable contributions to their homes and communities. Findings have implications for promoting empowering contexts for women, with a focus on ensuring that desired empowering change is occurring for the women involved.

Keywords

Women’s rights Empowerment Social change Nicaragua Community 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The present research was made possible by financial assistance from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund, a program of The Reed Foundation and a University of California Chancellor’s Dissertation Fellowship. Our sincere gratitude goes to several people who supported this work: Carlos Arenas, Joanna Beltrán Girón, Drs. Regina Langhout, Phil Hammack and Jessica Taft, the research team at CINASE, and the members of Xochilt Acalt.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

No portions of this report have been published elsewhere and this research is not under review at another circulating journal. The research presented here was conducted in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association.

Supplementary material

11199_2019_1005_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19 kb)

References

  1. Ahrens, C. E. (2006). Being silenced: The impact of negative social relations on the disclosure of rape. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38, 263–274.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-006-9069-9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, M. (2007). Shaping history: Narratives of political change. Cambridg0065, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batliwala, S. (2007). Taking the power out of empowerment–an experiential account. Development in Practice, 17(4–5), 557–565.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09614520701469559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bay-Cheng, L. Y. (2015). Living in metaphors, trapped in a matrix: The ramifications of neoliberal ideology for young women’s sexuality. Sex Roles, 73(7–8), 332–339.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0541-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 71–101.  https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brodsky, A. E., O’Campo, P. J., & Aronson, R. E. (1999). PSOC in community context: Multi- level correlates of a measure of psychological sense of community in low-income, urban neighborhoods. Journal of Community Psychology, 27(6), 659–679.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6629(199911)27:6<659::AID-JCOP3>3.0.CO;2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brodsky, A. E., Portnoy, G. A., Scheibler, J. E., Welsh, E. A., Talwar, G., & Carrillo, A. (2012). Beyond (the ABCs): Education, community, and feminism in Afghanistan. Journal of Community Psychology, 40(1), 159–181.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.20480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Burton, M., & Kagan, C. (2005). Liberation social psychology: Learning from Latin America. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 15(1), 63–78.  https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Campbell, C., & Jovchelovitch, S. (2000). Health, community and development: Towards a social psychology of participation. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 10(4), 255–270.  https://doi.org/10.1002/1099-1298(200007/08)10:4<255::AID-CASP582>3.0.CO;2-M.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cattaneo, L. B., & Chapman, A. R. (2010). The process of empowerment: A model for use in research and practice. American Psychologist, 65(7), 646–659.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018854.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cornwall, A. (2016). Women's empowerment: What works? Journal of International Development, 28(3), 342–359.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jid.3210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cornwall, A., & Eade, D. (Eds.). (2011). Deconstructing development discourse: Buzzwords and fuzzwords. Oxford, UK: Oxfam GB Practical Action Publishing.Google Scholar
  13. Crossley, M. L. (2000). Narrative psychology, trauma and the study of self/identity. Theory & Psychology, 10, 527–546.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0959354300104005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Downing, N. E., & Roush, K. L. (1985). From passive acceptance to active commitment: A model of feminist identity development for women. The Counseling Psychologist, 13(4), 695–709.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000085134013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dutt, A. (2017). Civic participation, prefigurative politics, and feminist solidarity in rural Nicaragua. In S. Grabe (Ed.), Women’s human rights: A social psychological perspective on resistance, liberation, and justice (pp. 151–178). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Dutt, A. (2018). Feminist organizing in rural Nicaragua: Assessing a psycho-social process to promote empowered solidarity. American Journal of Community Psychology, 61, 500–511.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12247.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Dutt, A., & Grabe, S. (2014). Lifetime activism, marginality, and psychology: Narratives of lifelong feminist activists committed to social change. Qualitative Psychology, 2, 107–122.  https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dutt, A., & Grabe, S. (2017). Gender ideology and social transformation: Using mixed methods to explore the role of deideologization in the promotion of women's human rights in Tanzania. Sex Roles, 77, 309–324.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0729-4.
  19. Dutt, A., & Kohfeldt, D. (2018). Towards a liberatory ethics of care framework for organizing social change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 6(2), 575–590.  https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v6i2.909.
  20. Dutt, A., Grabe, S., & Castro, M. (2016). Exploring links between women's business ownership and empowerment among Maasai women in Tanzania. Analysis of Social Issues and Public Policy, 16, 363–386.  https://doi.org/10.1111/asap.12091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elliott, R., Fischer, C. T., & Rennie, D. L. (1999). Evolving guidelines for publication of qualitative research studies in psychology and related fields. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38(3), 215–229.  https://doi.org/10.1348/014466599162782.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Francis, J. J., Johnston, M., Robertson, C., Glidewell, L., Entwistle, V., Eccles, M. P., & Grimshaw, J. M. (2010). What is an adequate sample size? Operationalizing data saturation for theory-based interview studies. Psychology and Health, 25, 1229–1245.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08870440903194015.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Frederick, J. K., & Stewart, A. J. (2018). “I became a lioness”: Pathways to feminist identity among women’s movement activists. Psychology of Women Quarterly. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684318771326.
  24. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.Google Scholar
  25. Freire, P. (1972). Cultural action for freedom. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  26. Grabe, S. (2010). Promoting gender equality: The role of ideology, power, and control in the link between land ownership and violence in Nicaragua. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 10, 146–170.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2010.01221.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grabe, S. (2012). An empirical examination of women’s empowerment and transformative change in the context of international development. American Journal of Community Psychology, 49, 233–245.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-011-9453-y.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Grabe, S. (2016). Narrating a psychology of resistance: Voices from the compañeras in Nicaragua. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Grabe, S. (Ed.). (2017). Women's human rights: A social psychological perspective on resistance, liberation, and justice. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Grabe, S., & Dutt, A. (2015). Counter narratives, the psychology of liberation, and the evolution of a women’s social movement in Nicaragua. Peace & Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 21, 89–105.  https://doi.org/10.1037/pac0000080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grabe, S., Dutt, A., & Dworkin, S. L. (2014). Women’s community mobilization and well-being: Local resistance to gendered social inequities in Nicaragua and Tanzania. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(4), 379–397.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.21616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hammack, P. L. (2011). Narrative and the politics of identity: The cultural psychology of Israeli and Palestinian youth. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Hammack, P. L., & Pilecki, A. (2012). Narrative as a root metaphor for political psychology. Political Psychology, 33(1), 75–103.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2011.00859.X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Harvey, D. (2007). A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Huis, M. A., Hansen, N., Otten, S., & Lensink, R. (2017). A three-dimensional model of women’s empowerment: Implications in the field of microfinance and future directions. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1–14.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Josselson, R. (2011). Narrative research: Constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing story. In K. Charmaz, L. McMullen, R. Josselson, R. Anderson, & E. McSpadden (Eds.), Five ways of doing qualitative analysis (pp. 224–242). New York: The Guildford Press.Google Scholar
  37. Jubb, N. (2014). Feminists and Sandinistas in Nicaragua: Then and now. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 33(3), 257–258.  https://doi.org/10.1111/blar.12104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kabeer, N. (2012). Empowerment, citizenship and gender justice: A contribution to locally grounded theories of change in women’s lives. Ethics in Social Welfare, 6, 216–232.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17496535.2012.704055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kampwirth, K. (1996). The mother of the Nicaraguans: Doña Violeta and the UNO's gender agenda. Latin American Perspectives, 23, 67–86.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0094582X9602300105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kampwirth, K. (2004). Feminism and the legacy of revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas. Cincinnati, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Kerrick, M. R., & Henry, R. L. (2017). “Totally in love”: Evidence of a master narrative for how new mothers should feel about their babies. Sex Roles, 76(1–2), 1–16.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0666-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kurtiş, T., Adams, G., & Estrada-Villalta, S. (2016). Decolonizing empowerment: Implications for sustainable well-being. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 16(1), 387–391.  https://doi.org/10.1111/asap.12120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Madill, A., Jordan, A., & Shirley, C. (2000). Objectivity and reliability in qualitative analysis: Realist, contextualist and radical constructionist epistemologies. British Journal of Psychology, 91(1), 1–20.  https://doi.org/10.1348/000712600161646.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Martín-Baró, I. (1994). Writings for a liberation psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Maton, K. I. (2008). Empowering community settings: Agents of individual development, community betterment, and positive social change. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41(1–2), 4–21.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-007-9148-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Maton, K. I., & Salem, D. A. (1995). Organizational characteristics of empowering community settings: A multiple case study approach. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23(5), 631–656.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02506985.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. McAdams, D. P. (1989). The development of a narrative identity. In D. Buss & N. Cantor (Eds.), Personality psychology: Recent trends and emerging directions (pp. 160–174). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moane, G. (2010). Sociopolitical development and political activism: Synergies between feminist and liberation psychology. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 521–529.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2010.01601.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Moane, G. (2011). Gender and colonialism. A psychological analysis of oppression and liberation. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  50. Molyneux, M. (1985). Mobilization without emancipation? Women's interests, the state, and revolution in Nicaragua. Feminist Studies, 11, 227–254. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3177922.
  51. Molyneux, M. (2001). Women's movements in international perspective: Latin America and beyond. London, UK: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Montenegro, S., & Cuadra, E. (2004). The keys to empowerment: Ten years of experiences at the Xochilt-Acalt Women’s Center in Malpiasillo, Nicaragua. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Coordinating Council on Nicaragua (WCCN). Retrieved from http://cinco.org.ni/archive/12.pdf.
  53. Montero, M. (2007). The political psychology of liberation: From politics to ethics and back. Political Psychology, 28(5), 517–533.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2007.00588.X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Montero, M. (2012). From complexity and social justice to consciousness: Ideas that have built a community psychology. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 3(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  55. Neisser, U. (1988). Five kinds of self-knowledge. Philosophical Psychology, 1(1), 35–59.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09515088808572924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Nussbaum, M. (2003). Capabilities as fundamental entitlements: Sen and social justice. Feminist Economics, 9(2–3), 33–59.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1354570022000077926.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Randall, M. (1994). Sandino's daughters revisited: Feminism in Nicaragua. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Rappaport, J. (1987). Terms of empowerment/exemplars of prevention: Toward a theory for community psychology. American Journal of Community Psychology, 15(2), 121–148.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00919275.pdf.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Riger, S. (1993). What's wrong with empowerment. American Journal of Community Psychology, 21(3), 279–292.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00941504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Russell, G. M., & Bohan, J. S. (2007). Liberating psychotherapy: Liberation psychology and psychotherapy with LGBT clients. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 11(3–4), 59–75.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J236v11n03_04.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sáiz-Manzanares, M. C., & Pérez Pérez, M. I. (2016). Autorregulación y mejora del autoconocimiento en resolución de problemas [Self-regulation and improvement of self-knowledge in problem solving]. Psicología desde el Caribe, 33(1), 15–31.  https://doi.org/10.1174/02103709560561159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sarbin, T. R. (1986). Narrative psychology: The storied nature of human conduct. Westport, CT: Praeger/Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  63. Savaş, Ö., & Stewart, A. J. (2018). Alternative pathways to activism: Intersections of social and personal pasts in the narratives of women’s rights activists. In Alternative pathways to activism: Intersections of social and personal pasts in the narratives of women’s rights activists. Qualitative Psychology. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1037/qup0000117.
  64. Sen, A. (1995). Gender inequality and theories of justice. In M. C. Nussbaum & J. Glover (Eds.), Women, culture and development: A study of human capabilities (pp. 259–273). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Singh, A. A. (2016). Moving from affirmation to liberation in psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming clients. American Psychologist, 71(8), 755–762.  https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000106.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Stake, J. E. (2007). Predictors of change in feminist activism through women’s and gender studies. Sex Roles, 57(1-2), 43–54.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9227-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sudbury, J., & Okazawa-Rey, M. (2009). Activist scholarship: Antiracism, feminism, and social change. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  68. Toolis, E. E. (2017). Theorizing critical placemaking as a tool for reclaiming public space. American Journal of Community Psychology, 59(1–2), 184–199.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ajcp.12118.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. United Nation. (2016). Human development report. New York: United Nations. Retrieved from http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf.Google Scholar
  70. Vázquez Piatti, M. (2008). El autoconocimiento, la base de la autoestima [self-knowledge, the basis of self-esteem]. Retrieved from http://www.abc.com.py/articulos/el-autoconocimiento-la-base-de-la-autoestima-1059212.Html.
  71. Watts, R. J., Williams, N. C., & Jagers, R. J. (2003). Sociopolitical development. American Journal of Community Psychology, 31, 185–194.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023091024140.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Wilson, T. D., & Dunn, E. W. (2004). Self-knowledge: Its limits, value, and potential for improvement. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 493–518.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141954.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Zimmerman, M. A. (1995). Psychological empowerment: Issues and illustrations. American Journal of Community Psychology, 23(5), 581–599.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02506983.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

Personalised recommendations