Empowering rural women in Benin: a contextualization through literacy projects and programs
The so-called “empowerment” of rural women remains one of the strategies for combating their situation of poverty and vulnerability. It has been the subject of several studies which have attempted to measure it to know the effects of development actions in their favor.
A polysemic and multidimensional concept, empowerment is complex; its measurement is difficult and presents challenges related particularly to its subjective and contextual characteristics, which suggest an operational and contextual definition of the concept. Through literacy programs, women are likely to become self-sufficient. One of the defining aspects of these programs is “when participants are asked to profile what an empowered woman should be in her own context”.
This article attempts to answer the following question: what is the perception of empowerment of rural women in the context of Benin, where several literacy programs have been implemented?
In this perspective, an exploratory, qualitative and participatory approach was adopted and supported by six (06) group interviews of seven (07) rural women each in six (06) departments of Benin. Through the content analysis method, the concept of empowerment is contextualized with an appropriate measurement framework and a local definition as they perceived it: Empowerment is a process of change that takes place in women's lives, by which they access/acquire (to) more economic and social resources, gain access to new knowledge and skills to improve their well-being and that of their families, as well as to increase their negotiation skills with men/spouses, negotiation that leads to mutual consultation and results in freer decision-making.
The results found could serve as a starting point for future research aimed at assessing the effects or impact of rural women's participation in literacy projects and programs on their level of empowerment.
Keywords: Empowerment, literate woman, participating woman, rural environment, measurement.
JEL Classification: C83, I 25, I28, I38, I31, J16
Type of paper: empirical research
Copyright (c) 2023 Ahonami Yvette DOGNON
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