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Rural Extension and Microenterprise Credit: Strategies that Work for Low Income Indigenous Women and Their Families in Rural Latin America

This paper examines issues pertaining to rural Latin American development, and in particular it considers the situations of poor indigenous women in Bolivia. After examining rural development and women in development (WID), a literature review is provided. Two main areas in the literature are covered. One refers to the breadth of topics related to the themes mentioned here. (This ‘breadth of the literature’ is expanded upon in Appendix B of this paper.) The other literature reflects the depth of a narrower but perhaps more relevant literature. (Both literatures are placed in chronological order in order to show some development of thought over time).

Following these reviews, the paper’s analysis utilizes the information revealed in the literature and recommendations are made. A specific site in rural Bolivia is used as a case study. Gender analysis is included, and a sample gender survey of existing conditions is presented in Appendix A.

This paper focuses on Latin American rural development strategy that features the needs of low income indigenous women and their roles in rural extension and microenterprise credit. The concept of extension may be broad, including research, farm visits, model farms, demonstration projects, and marketing assistance; and the notion of microenterprise credit entails lending to small enterprises or entrepreneurs. The specific case of an Agriculture-Medical Center at a college in Bolivia is examined; and a set of guidelines is generated to assure a strategy that works for low income indigenous women and their families. But first, the paper argues that it is important to recognize a fundamental problem that exists in rural development, which is that women’s roles in rural extension and credit have traditionally been ignored by research and policy.

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