Women's leadership development and the empowerment process
In recent years, Women's Leadership Development, (WLD) has become a focus area in the theory and practice of sustainable development. It attempts to develop and strengthen leadership skills in women, marginalized not only within development programs but also within the socioeconomic and political systems within their countries. Using mini-ethnographies to explore why and how three Guatemalan women leaders experience the process of becoming empowered, this paper gives voice to women leaders while providing insights into the development of women's leadership. The conceptual framework for this study is Critical Theory. It engages participants in a political agenda, inspiring action on the part of individual women, organizations and institutions. An exploration into the methodologies of organizations working toward WLD in Guatemala indicates that while leadership skills can be strengthened, there are some fundamental aspects of leadership development that cannot easily be developed or replicated in a designed or controlled environment. Through the stories of these three women, it becomes evident that the empowerment process is historical, contextual, experiential and ultimately political.