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From Survivor to Entrepreneur: Gendered Dimensions of Microenterprise Development in Peru


  • M Hays-Mitchell

    (Department of Geography, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, NY 13346, USA)


The author examines the gendered experience of economic restructuring within the microenterprise sector of Peru and the ways in which this is related to the creation and reproduction of ideologies and identities of gender within Peruvian society and the international development community. She suggests that the prevailing conceptualization of poor urban women as ‘survivors/victims’ within national society, social science discourse, and development praxis reveals a gender bias that is operationalized in the widespread exclusion of women from mainstream programs of microenterprise development. In arguing for a reconceptualization of poor urban women as ‘survivors/producers’ and/or ‘survivors/entrepreneurs’ in a way that highlights the empowering dimension of this identity, the diverse productive and reproductive activities that constitute women's daily experiences are seen as a self-directed act of resistance to the disenfranchising impact of structural adjustment. From an analysis of the impact of five microenterprise development programs on the lives of participating women, it is concluded that gender-focused programs of microenterprise assistance open a new space for poor urban women to create and negotiate alternative, more empowering identities.

Suggested Citation

  • M Hays-Mitchell, 1999. "From Survivor to Entrepreneur: Gendered Dimensions of Microenterprise Development in Peru," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 31(2), pages 251-271, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:31:y:1999:i:2:p:251-271

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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2012. "A Gender (R)evolution in the Making? Expanding Women's Economic Opportunities in Central America : A Decade in Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12468, The World Bank.
    2. Susan Hanson, 2009. "Changing Places Through Women's Entrepreneurship," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 85(3), pages 245-267, July.
    3. Thilde Langevang & Katherine V. Gough & Paul W. K. Yankson & George Owusu & Robert Osei, 2015. "Bounded Entrepreneurial Vitality: The Mixed Embeddedness of Female Entrepreneurship," Economic Geography, Clark University, vol. 91(4), pages 449-473, October.

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