• Natalia del Corral Martin
  • Karin Uuskam
The present thesis is a case study about La Red de Mujeres Libres sin Fronteras, a refugee-led group of Colombian refugee women in Ecuador. The aim is to find out, to what extent and why does membership of the group empower its members and help them overcome their hardship. In order to answer the research question, 18 interviews were carried out with 17 members of the group and a representative of Asylum Access. The gathered data was analysed in the framework of intersectionality, new social movements and empowerment. The interviews show that the biggest obstacle the women face in Ecuador is discrimination that affects the members on a daily basis. As a way of coping, La Red de Mujeres Libres sin Fronteras is a response to discrimination. It empowers the women as well as the group as a whole in providing them a platform of meaningful participation. The enhanced sense of belonging provides a safe space where new positive stories and collective narratives are created, enabling the group to challenge the dominant narrative that forms the basis of discrimination. The negative effects of discrimination are countered by increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. Furthermore, the members have increased the power-to as they feel more able to cope with negative situations. It has increased their awareness of their rights and through the objective of visibility, the public awareness of their rights. Through solidarity, the women individually, as well as the group level, have used this space of meaningful participation to become active agents in the implementation of refugee support. Though still in early stages, the group attempts of collaboration with other institutions is promising in terms of sustainability of the group. The group is not focused on political empowerment as discrimination is restricting the access to already existing rules. Despite economic hardship, the group is not aimed at economic empowerment on the level of the individual. Economic empowerment is also limited on the collective level though there is a plan to auto-finance the group through collaboration. The thesis concludes that La Red de Mujeres Libres sin Fronteras has significantly empowered its members both the individual and collective level by enhancing the power-within, power-to and power-with and, while it is mostly evident in the socio-cultural domain, there is a possibility of positive spill-over effects to other domains. This, however, needs to be confirmed with further research over time.
Keywords: refugees, gender, empowerment, social movements, intersectionality, discrimination, Colombia, Ecuador, power
Publication date2017
ID: 261149991