Gender issues, indigenous peoples and popular participation in Bolivia
The following work is the culmination of a research process undertaken between December 1995 and September 1997 in various sites throughout Bolivia. Although the research process itself will be outlined more thoroughly in chapter 4 it would be useful to initially clarify a few key points as to the processes of fieldwork which resulted in the analyses presented in this thesis. The research process can be viewed in three phases. Phase I was undertaken in La Paz and Cochabamba between December 1995 and February 1996 by myself, Professor David Booth, then working at the University of Hull, and Charlotta Widmark representing the University of Stockholm. Phase II was conducted between May and September 1996 and involved a total of 14 Bolivian researchers working in four teams, with myself, Booth and Widmark. During this second phase we conducted fieldwork in four rural areas: the Amazonian region of Moxos, Corque on the Altiplano, Independencia in the High Andes and Puerto Villerroel in the coca-growing region of El Chapare. I worked in each of these areas except Corque on the Altiplano. Both phases I and II were commissioned and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Phases I and II aimed to provide an initial appraisal of the process of democratisation in Bolivia, focusing in particular upon: • the coherence and practicality of the institutional reforms (decentralisation and popular participation) given the principal constraints on their operation; • the interpretation of, and responses to, 'democratisation' among women and men in poor communities, including the cultural ramifications and relations to previously existing representative institutions at various levels; • the effectiveness of the changes in improving the position of formerly disempowered groups and social categories, including Amerindian minorities and women; • any positive or negative interactions with objects of government policy and SIDA support, including poverty reduction, gender equality and educational reform; • the possible design of appropriate quantitative or qualitative indicators suitable for monitoring the progress of democratisation at the regional, provincial and community levels in Bolivia, bearing in mind the specific social and cultural conditions of the country. Phase III, the aims of which are outlined below, involved a further eight months of independent research conducted in the urban centre of Cochabamba between February and September, 1997. This was purely doctoral research and was self-funded and which I carried out alone and independently of the SIDA study. The following work is, however, based upon the findings and experiences resulting from all three phases of the research.