Title

Rural Tanzanian Women's Agency: Experiences and Responses to Socio-Economic Challenges

Date of Degree

12-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

Francis M. Boakari

Advisor

Jessica Kimmel

Advisor

Michael McGuire

Abstract

This qualitative case study explored the rural Tanzania women’s agency and women’s experiences in responding to socio-economic challenges in their environment. The study’s main objective was to uncover the hidden women’s agency as well as the women’s knowledge and capabilities that have been ignored and/or taken for granted. The researcher adopted the Freirean humanization approach and Feminist perspective to understand how these women perceived their situation and exercised their agency to transform their rural environment. Through in-depth interviews, the dialogical approach allowed the women in their own voices to articulate their experiences and to identify issues that limited or encouraged their contribution to the socio-economic livelihood of their families. The study revealed the women’s ability to make critical analyses o f their realities, make choices, and to take steps to change the undesirable conditions in their environment with limited or no key resources. The findings revealed the individual and collective agencies of the women as social actors and change agents working hard to improve their rural environment. To sustain these agencies the study allows calling for urgent local, national, and international recognition and support of women’s efforts.

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