Women as Mapmakers: Gender and Empowerment in Participatory Mapping
Participatory mapping, one of the most widely used participatory research techniques, has been cited as a viable means for women to express their spaces and resources. But to what extent has gender, and women in particular, been incorporated into participatory mapping research? This paper explores gender in the participatory mapping literature and contemplates women’s empowerment through participatory research experiences working with women and men farmers in the developing world. In the literature overview, this paper considers examples of both the acknowledgment and absence of gender analysis in participatory research, as well as gender resource mapping and research topics focusing exclusively on women or on men. Overall, while gender is included in some participatory mapping work, it deserves greater consideration in future research. Based on field work in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia, the authors conclude that participatory mapping provides opportunities for semi-literate or illiterate women to contribute their knowledge and perspectives to development research projects as well as providing pedagogical opportunities for action research. Understanding gendered roles and spaces can contribute to improved understanding of social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues.