• Sofia Juliana Mata Chavez Koldsø
  • Veronica Linnéa Widén
Over the recent years, new initiatives have arisen to bring poverty to an end, especially in the Global South. The Latin American economies have been in constant fluctuation and so have the citizens who one morning form part of the formal market, and by the next day must find alternatives within the informal market. Entrepreneurship has therefore become popular, as these initiatives are said to provide a personal income for the citizens who are unemployed or operate outside of the formal market. Women have been in particular, the key focus as entrepreneurship initiatives lead to their economic empowerment. Entrepreneurship has, therefore, received a lot of credit for having the power to reduce poverty and make women actors of socioeconomic change. Other scholars have however been skeptical towards these initiatives, as they believe that these activities only lead to economic dependency rather than financial sustainability. These academic contradictions gave rise to a puzzle, which invented the study of this phenomenon.
The underlying objective was to explore the controversies of entrepreneurship activities by exploring one of Latin America’s most culturally diverse nations – Bolivia, where more than half of the population recognize themselves as indigenous. Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have historically been discriminated against and marginalized based on their ethnicity. Indigenous women, however, have faced significantly more oppression due to their intersectional identities, as being both women and indigenous. Thus, the research explored the popular development strategies of entrepreneurship to understand how these either aids or challenge indigenous women in Bolivia in achieving gender equality and empowerment.
To do so, the research adopted a Postcolonial feminist and Marxist feminist theory as well as an intersectional approach, as these theories enabled us to examine the construction of power structures that have continuously oppressed indigenous women in Bolivia. These theories allowed for an in-depth understanding of how the inequalities experienced by indigenous women are related to the consistent oppression within the political, social, cultural, and economic context. On top of that, applying an intersectional approach allowed for an exploration of the intersecting gendered, racialized, and socio-economic barriers that indigenous women experience. The ontological and epistemological standpoints played a role in understanding how the systematic oppression of indigenous women has been constructed over time. In addition to this, the ontology and epistemology allowed us to explore how entrepreneurship activities can be part of reconstructing a new reality for indigenous women, as empowered women who can achieve gender equality, but also analyze how these initiatives can be part of reproducing the same political, social, and economic reality of indigenous women in Bolivia. The research is built on a qualitative research design that allows a thorough analysis of how entrepreneurship aids or challenges indigenous women in achieving gender equality and empowerment. The analysis highlighted the importance of a context-specific approach and the significance of including the needs and interests of indigenous women. By considering the subjectivity and needs of indigenous women, entrepreneurship initiatives can empower indigenous women by giving them the ability to exercise their agency to achieve gender equality. However, there also exists impediments to indigenous women’s empowerment and gender equality, as entrepreneurial initiatives can lead to among other things an economic dependency on bank loans or a continuous dependency on a foreign market. Overall, this research concludes that entrepreneurship can to a certain extent aid indigenous women in achieving gender equality and empowerment. Nevertheless, it was proven that these initiatives do not challenge the colonial, racialized, and gendered power structures that systematically oppress indigenous women in Bolivia.

SpecialisationLatin American Studies
Publication date27 May 2021
Number of pages98
ID: 413032925