Examining Economic Development Strategies for Women in the Developing World Amy Shields Abstract In our increasingly globalized world, economic assistance to women in developing nations has become the focus of much research. There are several ways in which development assistance is provided. One of the “hottest” forms of assistance currently is the microloan. Through a series of case studies that look at the different forms of development assistance, I will assess whether the microloan model is more effective than any of the other models in producing sustainable development. Research Question and Significance The question I am going to investigate is what modes of development assistance to women are the most effective and sustainable. In recent years, emphasis has been placed on the microloan model. The question I pose is 1) is this model sustainable for long term economic development, 2) are there other equally effective development assistance options, and 3) what should future development assistance to women entail? This research question is significant to many different people from many different populations. To begin, women in developing countries clearly want the most sustainable form of economic assistance. Development is useless if it cannot be sustained. Studies have proven that development assistance to women benefits the family more than development assistance in the hands of men. Secondly, governments and NGOs want their funds and efforts to be used in the most effective way possible. The US government might be more inclined to invest in development projects if there were some sort of research that gave a “consumer report” of commonly-used methods. While some people may disagree, governments do not like to waste money, and proof that money would not be wasted would go a long way in convincing them. Lastly, this research question could go a long way towards proving or disproving the actual applicability of the microloan. In the past few years, these small loans to individuals have become quite trendy. While the idea is not new, the widespread use of such loans as a development strategy is. My research question would be one way to further delve into these ideas. Project Design and Feasibility This project would be designed as a case study. By looking at several different methods of development assistance in various regions of the world, I would use common factors to assess the effectiveness of each project. Some of the methods I would like to look into include the formation of craft guilds, agricultural co-ops, and small business microloans. I would like to look at who is sponsoring these initiatives (governments, local NGOs, international NGOs, etc), how long they have been active, what successes and setbacks they have had, what plans they have for the future, and several other factors. I plan to gather information from a variety of sources. For development initiatives that are run by NGOs, I will contact the organizations to try to find the most up-to-date information on these projects. I would like to interview employees working on the projects and, if possible, even receive feedback from women in these developing nations. I would like to research what a variety of development and economic experts have to say about these different methods of development. I plan to include information on the history of globalization and the challenges that face the future. I will also be using online and print sources when direct information from governments and NGOs is not available. The final report will be a case study presentation of several different projects followed by an analysis of which projects will have long-term success and which may not. I plan to finish the research and data gathering for this project by the first week in July. This will allow me ample time to work on the written summary of my findings. I am applying to use this research topic as my H&SS Senior Honors Program project. Next fall, I will be starting the Accelerated Master’s Program at the Heinz School for the Public Policy and Management degree. In order to allow myself enough time to complete my research, I think it is in my best interest to begin this project over the summer. I am looking forward to working on a topic that is of great interest to me, and I am excited to have the opportunity to devote my undivided attention to it. Background I have taken several classes that deal with development on a global level. I think the most relevant class was 88-359: Globalization, taught by Dr. Silvia Borzutzky. This class examined the effects that globalization has had on people in developing countries around the world. For my research paper for the class, I studied the effects of globalization on women workers in Mexican maquiladoras. These maquilas are supposedly helpful for regional economic development but carry with them high social costs. I would like to use the concepts of the class and the tools I used in that paper to expand upon the idea of sustainable development for women. The other class that I have taken that I believe to be quite useful in this project is 88-332: Foreign Aid: The U.S., the EU, and the Developing World, taught by Dr. Laura Hastings. This class focused on the different types of aid given to developing countries and on the organizations that dispense this aid. The information from this class will allow me to look at some very broad ways aid is given and then to narrow my case studies from there. I plan to incorporate many of the themes from this class into my research. Finally, I have already conducted some research on the microloan model of development. In preparing a policy proposal for the Truman Scholarship, I looked into the ways that microloans could be used to help prevent human trafficking. In studying microloans, I began to think about the long-term sustainability of this development assistance. As a result of my Truman Scholarship policy proposal, I came up with the topic for this research project. Feedback and Evaluation Dr. Hastings will provide much of the feedback and evaluation for my project. By the end of the summer, I will submit a final draft to her. From her feedback and evaluation of my findings, I would like to then spend time improving the written report. I also plan to seek feedback from Dr. Borzutzky. With these two points of view, I believe I will be able to produce a very credible research paper. After incorporating this feedback, I would like to send my paper to some of the NGOs that I gathered information from. I believe they may have a different perspective and would like to hear their thoughts on my findings. I would submit my finished paper to Dr. Hastings by the end of the Fall 2007 semester. While my project would be officially finished by this time, I would also seek feedback through the Undergraduate Research Symposium. I believe it is never too late to reevaluate and improve on your research. Dissemination of Information I would try to disseminate information through a variety of means. I would present my research and findings at Meeting of the Minds 2008. I would also submit my findings to a variety of undergraduate research journals. As I mentioned before, I would also like to send my findings back to the organizations that provide information for me. The final report will be in standard academic research paper format.
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