Bess-Bascom, Donell, Class of 2015 – (Guyana)

Practicum Summary:

Housing and Women’s Empowerment: A case study of the Hinterland Housing Pilot Project in Guyana

Donell’s study examines the role of Amerindian women in the Hinterland housing pilot project in Guyana. The primary objective of this project was to address the housing needs of 9 communities in regions 1 and 9 of Guyana by disbursing subsidies for the construction of complete houses or new zinc roofs and rain water harvesting systems. Donell’s research analyzes whether the housing project had any impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and seeks to influence the National Housing Policy regarding interventions for marginalized groups. The study found that now that the basic needs of adequate shelter and water resources had been met, women who participated in the pilot expressed aspirations and had even taken action to pursue other needs in their lives. At the household level, women desire further improvements in housing conditions and increased income generations. At the community level, women would like to see infrastructural development, increased educational and economic opportunities, and a more important role in community leadership. Overall, the active participation of women in the housing project was integral to the project’s success, which initiated a shift in women’s perceptions of their own capabilities and control over resources and their own lives. For the future Donell recommends the creation of gender sensitive program development to encourage female participation in projects, with institutional means to measure progress.