Home Institution

Pacific Lutheran University

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society


The women of rural northern Nicaragua live in a context that is shaped by the inequalities of gender and class that originate in machista culture and the dominant economic system. To confront this reality, the non-government organization, Fundación Entre Mujeres (FEM) works from the “Gender and Development” (GAD) approach using a model of holistic women’s empowerment. To create social change, FEM’s programs focus on ideological, economic, and organizational empowerment. This investigation seeks to understand how FEM carries out its holistic empowerment model within communities, while reflecting on the strengths of their methodology and the challenges they face in creating social change. The analysis is based on Aruna Rao and David Kelleher’s model for social change that prescribes the necessity of working for change in formal and informal capacities at both the individual and systematic levels of society. The conclusions of this study are based on interviews with women and men who are apart of FEM or who have been affected by its programs in addition to participant observations in the community of Los Llanos and at other FEM activities. The hope is that an examination of FEM’s holistic empowerment model can offer insight into how it is possible to change oppressive systems and create alternatives where equality and dignity are the cultural norms.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Rural Sociology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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