|dc.description.abstract||The mainstream development process has become an ideology in its own right, and its
principles and practice are internationally accepted. They are not, however,
universally beneficial. In developing countries women especially suffer
disproportionately the negative effects of development. While development planners
and policy makers attempt to change this by including women in their projects,
alternative development activists maintain that the very structures of mainstream
development uphold gender, racial and class inequality.
The literature review is an exploration of the key criticisms of alternative
development activists, particularly Third World feminists, and the principles of
alternative strategies they propose. Self-empowerment is the primary principle for
Third World women to gain equitable development.
How can the self-empowerment principle work for women? This monograph is a
biographical sketch of twenty single heads of households in Altanbulag somon,
Mongolia. Mongolia is a country in transition from a command to an open economy.
Privatisation has been the primary focus of the transition strategy, and one of the
most disturbing results has been widespread poverty of a scale not previously known.
Poverty levels are higher in the rural population, and among women. Single headed
households are also represented disproportionately below the official poverty line.
All interviewees are living in difficult circumstances, over half of the households
living on or below the official poverty line. Most struggle to meet basic needs and
some are completely dependent upon the charity of neighbours for survival.
Unemployment, high dependency upon the state or family members, and isolation are
significant aspects of these people's lives.
Based on my interpretation of the interview results, any women's collective action for
change will need to address issues of women's legal status, particularly that offemale
household heads; gaining a political voice; women's physical isolation; solidarity
and employment; a careful and just identification of the poor; the government's
awareness of the needs of the poor; and becoming a cohesive force for change.
This work does not set out to give advice or to make recommendations. It does show
the potential for research to support and collaborate with women for change. More
work needs to be done on women's collective response to poverty, their collective
action for change, and the unfolding of indigenous development strategies.||en