This study concerns a rural development project in a village in Bangladesh,
initiated in 1973 and followed up regularly until 1991. The original project included the development of a jute handicraft cooperative for women, started and supervised by the author
The aims of the thesis are: to describe and analyze the process of change in the lives of some women, engaged in the cooperative, to shed light on this process from the women's perspective, and to discuss what can and should be a target for development education for rural women, coming from the lowest social stratum of society. The ten women who first joined the cooperative are focused in this thesis. The thesis includes their own tales of their experience of the training involved in participation in the cooperative, and their own development process.
In the study, the concept of dialogue is used both as a pedagogical method of imparting knowledge, as a form of conversation/interview, aiming at obtaining information from an insider perspective, and also as a concept when compiling data in life histories. The life history approach has been helpful in investigating the educational and developmental process from the women's point of view.
Beside skills training, the content of the education for the cooperative was alphabetization, cooperative training and management. Other topics such as nutrition, hygiene, health- and child-care and family planning, were eventually included after the need for training in such areas was articulated in the dialogue between the participating women and the project leader. In contrast to many development projects managed entirely from the top down, all aspects of the training programme were discussed with and approved by the targeted group.
The main effect of the training programme was empowerment of the women, which was expressed as an articulated consciousness of their human dignity and a feeling of freedom. The women had developed a professional identity and an awareness of the relevance of contextualised education. A further effect of their new identity was a reduced birth rate.
The results of the project are discussed in relation to development education.
Umeå: Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet , 1995. , 153 p.
Empowering women, development education, rural development, self-reliance, dialogue, life history approach, Bangladesh