Though women make up more than 1/2 of the human population, many still face enormous barriers to being able to control their futures and the wellbeing of their families. Our graduates have worked directly with women in marginalized communities to usher them through the empowerment process, so that they can command increasing control over their finances and other life circumstances. Through community change efforts, women across the world are becoming able to tell their own stories and direct their lives toward more hopeful horizons.

What We Are Doing:

  • Class of 2015 alumna Donell Bess-Bascom of Guyana researched Amerindian women’s involvement in the Hinterland Housing pilot project in Guyana in order to investigate the potential for women’s empowerment through the participatory process. This project subsidized the construction of zinc roofs and rainwater collection systems in two regions across Guyana. Bess-Bascom found that women’s participation in these housing improvement efforts led to women’s empowerment and increasing gender equality as their involvement led to changes in their self-perception and control over their resources/ life circumstances. Furthermore, as their quality of life improved due to housing improvements, the women in her study gained greater aspirations to further improve their circumstances and generate additional income streams to achieve self-sufficiency. She thus recommended that women’s participation be integrated into Guyana’s National Housing Policy for further gains in gender equality.
  • Class of 2014 alumna Chido Madiwa of Zimbabwe investigated the most effective ways to achieve empowerment for the women in the Johanne Apolistic Church by examining economic empowerment programmes housed in the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender, and Community Development in the Mutasa district in Manicaland Province. Her findings suggested that more funding be allocating to women in the church and to create more networking opportunities for women so that they can enjoy the boost to self-esteem and economic power that comes with empowerment.
  • Class of 2005 alumna Shannon Bell of the United States was committed to growing a new model for primary health care in Cabin Creek, WV during her graduate studies. She advocated using community development methods to revitalize the struggling coal mine town and address some of its major health issues. After graduating from Future Generations, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Oregon in order to study ways of overcoming the challenges to grassroots mobilizing in rural Appalachia. Her dissertation collected the stories and gave voice to Appalachian women from five coal-mining communities using the participatory action research method known as “PhotoVoice.” She has authored two books on Appalachian women and these challenges to community change, Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed, and Fighting King Coal: The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia.