Examining women's experiences of an economic empowerment project : a case study of women participants in Teya-teyaneng craft projects of Berea District.
Makoko, Reboetsoe Rosemary.
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In the UNDP Report of 2008, promotion of gender equality and women empowerment, Millennium Development Goal (MDG3), has been declared not only as the main developmental objective but also a fundamental mode of attaining the entire MDGs. This study examines women’s experiences of economic empowerment projects in the era of escalating female household heading and relentless poverty in Lesotho. It particularly focuses on women participating in crafts projects initiated for income generation, in the context of gendered spaces. A growing body of literature asserts that Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) is a potential route out of abject poverty, especially for the economically marginalised women in Female- Headed Households (FHH). A case study focusing on women participants in Teya-teyaneng crafts of Berea district in Lesotho was carried out. Semi-structured interviews were employed to explore the potential of participation to yield positively for empowerment in the scenario of informal economy. Findings from the two units within the single case utilised revealed that empowerment remains to be one of the entangled processes of economic development. It is highly subjected to social, political and economic procedures operating in a country. The study further revealed that economic empowerment of women participating in income generating projects is considerably constrained by the patriarchal and globalised economic set ups that women operate within. The case of Elelloang Basali illuminated that adherence to contemporary strategies of economic empowerment is a beneficial ingredient, contrary to the operations of Setsoto Design. Recommendations ultimately forwarded highlight the significance of macro-economic policy to pay attention to the assertion that WEE is not merely a path out of poverty but an intrinsic entity of employment-led-growth. This also hints on policy for broad-based growth that can be countercyclical for the economy of the country. The paper serves to articulate a dire need for shift from reluctance to responsiveness for those with political and economic will power.
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