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Catalyzing female leadership and participation in rural development : The Saemaul Women Associations in the Republic of Korea

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  • Catalyzing female leadership and participation in rural development
  • Bathanti, Jacob
  • Global Delivery Initiative; KDI School


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Title Catalyzing female leadership and participation in rural development
Similar Titles
Sub Title

The Saemaul Women Associations in the Republic of Korea

Material Type Reports
Author(English)

Bathanti, Jacob

Publisher

Global Delivery Initiative; KDI School

Date 2019
Series Title; No Global Delivery Initiative
Subject Country South Korea(Asia and Pacific)
Language English
File Type Link
Subject Territorial Development < National Land Development
Social Development < Gender
Holding Global Delivery Initiative
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Abstract

This case study examines the emergence of the Saemaul Undong Women's Association in the Republic of Korea from 1972 to 1979. This initiative was carried out as part of the Saemaul Undong (New Village Movement), a nationwide community development project. The Saemaul Undong combined top-down aspects, in that it was mandated and directed by the central govenerment, and bottom-up aspects, in that villages had broad leeway in terms of the projects that they took on at the local level. The same was true for the Saemaul Women's Associations.
One important aspect of the Saemaul Undong was its encouragement of women’s leadership in village projects. In 1973, the Saemaul Women’s Association was established as a branch organization of the Saemaul Undong. After the establishment of the SWA, each village had one male and one female Saeumaul leader, who were tasked with organizing village members to undertake a variety of local development projects – ranging from reforestation and building small bridges to the creation of village savings and improved agriculture programs, like planting orchards and building greenhouses. The program-within-a-program of the SWA, and the building up of women’s leadership that this entailed, has been credited with significantly changing women’s roles in rural society; with inspiring them to participate in village life; and with possibly having a long-term effect on such markers of women’s empowerment as increased school enrollment for girls.