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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Case Study of the Effects of Participation in an Organization in the Lives of Women: Post-Conflict Ayacucho, Peru

  • Author(s): Portocarrero, Sandra
  • et al.

This paper examines the effects of participation and the importance of organizational ties in the lives of Andean women in Ayacucho, Peru. For over two decades (1980-2000) the country of Peru went through an internal conflict that entailed serious crimes mostly committed by the Shining Path and the Peruvian Army. Ayacucho was the most affected region during the conflict, leaving poverty and dramatic consequences throughout the region. Today, the economic development of Ayacucho is slow yet a number of grass roots of organizations have allowed different segments of the population to improve their quality of life. This paper focuses on the women members of the National Association of the Relatives and Disappeared of Peru (ANFASEP), paying special attention to the importance of the organizational ties that have emerged within the organization and the reproduction of social capital. Using the data collected through forty-eight in-depth interviews, I claim that the more women participate in the organization, the better their quality of life and economic well-being is. My findings suggest that organizations have allowed them to access resources that affect their quality of life in a positive manner as long as the members of an organization remain active. In this way, organizations have become access routes for active members to resources that are otherwise hard to access. This paper makes an important contribution to the literature on women’s movements in Latin America, using Peru as a case study, offering key insights about the evolution of women’s movements into institutionalized organizations.

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