Dear all,

I have been asked to undertake a gender assessment in two Indigenous villages deep into the interior of Suriname, close to the border of Brazil. I am worried that, with usual gender analysis (stereotypes, work, access and control, formal decision-making) I might miss certain aspects of female strength/status. Does anyone have tips / literature / expertise on how to capture the gender challenges of a traditional community that is literally and figuratively speaking on the border of a dominant (capitalist) western society?

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Dear Jahvni,

Thanks for your extensive response. You are so right about the assumptions you take along without being aware of it. So far, this research has proven to be a whole new learning experience for me. It is the first time I have to rely so much upon a translator. The funny thing is that, in the process, she has become more of a research assistant than a translator. So yes to your points!

It is at the cusp that new knowledge gets generated! loved it. Weaving the lived experience of communities with academic knowledge to co-create new knowledge!

Dear Haidy,

Thanks for your extensive feedback. Yes, this is what I have been focusing on from a 'standard' gender assessment. I recognize the informal voice of women. On the other hand, there is a lot of domestic violence, partly related to communication norms and alcohol. I am still having a hard time bringing these two dynamics together.

And yes, I think your remarks on the gender equality in traditional indigenous culture are on point.

Yes, indeed that is very common. It would be interesting for the people themselves to know if this has been part of their culture always, or has been introduced by the colonising parties.. What helped me a lot to address the domestic violence in the conversation, to see how much it affects the health of the women. When I worked in the rural area of Ecuador, it turned out many women lived in depression and with a continuous headache. They took that as part of life. However, as it concerned physical health issues, it became easier to address it and talk about it, also with the men. It also turned out that there is a whole group of men who don't like to use violence, but have learned that this is the way to treat your wife and children. Once they knew it is was actually a crime (by law) and that their family would thrive much more without any violence, some immediately stopped, others stopped in the long run..


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