NGOs, gender and indigenous grassroots development
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This paper explores the issues of the unheard voices of even well organized indigenous communities. The paper presents the issues lived during a project development between two indigenous communities (in California and Mexico) and small NGOs headed or facilitated by women. The project was developed to attract tourism, protect the environment, and improve the living standards of the displaced indigenous communities. The projects were headed by male community leaders and the NGO. In Mexico the leaders agreed to share the profits among male headed- households. Men wanted to spend it on a road, women consulted wanted to improve the village clinic. Gender equity, in terms of gender differences in needs, aims and ability to participate were not considered but indigenous women were expected to donate their time and effort to the project, to perform as well as providing the crafts to be sold for visitors. The communities saw the tourist activities as a reclamation and reaffirmation of a culture that has been almost lost, rather than as an exercise in local economic development. Nevertheless the NGOs woman consultant failed to question if the men in charge spoke for the women's interests. In California the NGO also failed to comply with their requests, attempting to introduce unwanted economic activities.