Tent of Nations 2019 [4]: Bethlehem, Soldiers, Settlements & Spiritual Growth

[This is a journal entry I wrote in Palestine. Any notes made by me after the fact will be in brackets and/or not italicized. I’ve added information on some politics in this post. I also included some of my own personal thoughts about faith in this entry. The next post will be about community psychology and how I saw it in the West Bank. Please enjoy!]

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Summary and Reflection

If there is one thing that I learned from this research experience is the value of human connection and speech. Communicating and talking with these amazing women in Nicaragua enhanced my understanding of their practices and culture. I was able to learn so much about myself and what I truly value in my own life through this experience that has helped me grow both in my academic and personal life. I learned that there are different roles and tasks that women have. Primarily the role of the women is to take care of the household by cleaning, washing, cooking, taking care of the children, and gathering water. I have been able to come to the conclusion that there are different gender roles that women and men have in the community and in their household, however, linking gender roles to community participation in women is a more complex conclusion to make. Women do attend the community meetings and speak at these meetings. Before the presentations in a few weeks I will be working with my advisor for my research by looking more closely at trends and correlations between the questions. I hope to continue this research this fall and travel back to Nicaragua in the near future.

Women’s Gender Role

For the last questions in the interview schedule I wanted to ask more specific questions about gender roles of women. I did this by asking basic questions concerning household tasks. Question 9 asked if the women lived with a companero which can mean husband or boyfriend. 64.28% said that they did live with a companero. There is no significant trend correlating their relationship status with their responsibilities in the household. Question 10 asked more specifically about women’s gender roles as relating to different tasks, and decision making in the household. The question asked if they do different tasks and if they don’t then who does it in the household. The first sub question asks about women’s responsibilities in the household. 67.85% of the women stated that their responsibilities in the household include cleaning, washing, taking care of the children if they have any and preparing the food for the family. 42.85% of women get the water for the household by themselves, while the other women have help from their husbands or sons. All the women who were interviewed said that they prepare the food for the family either alone or with their mother and or daughter. Purifying the water is another task that women primarily do, some with their husbands. Men, whether they are the women’s husbands, brothers, or sons primarily make the money for the family. In the community, work is not necessarily steady for the men at times they must travel outside the community to find work. It is important to note that women can make money for themselves or their family or doing chores for other members of the community who pay them for their services. Deciding what to do with the money that the family earns is not as linear. Some women decide together with their husbands, others the husband decides or the men in the house decide how the money will be used. Washing the clothes and taken care of the children is a gender role that women primarily taken on. Lastly taking care of the animals that the family might have and harvesting or taking care of the plants is a job that both women and men do. At this point in my research I can conclude that there are gender roles that both men and women take on in the community women’s role primarily is to cook, wash the clothes, take care of the children, and cook the food for the family. The men on the other hand, work to support the family and are the primary decision makers when it comes to figuring out how to spend their money and other resources that the family has.

Quantifying the Interview Questions

At this point in my project, I am looking at the data by quantifying the answers to the questions I have posed in the interviews. What I have learned from the community is that women do attend the community meetings. I posed this question, in the last 6 months have you attended a community meeting? 77.77% of women said that they had attended a community meeting. 66.66% of women attended a community meeting in the last 6 months. Attendance is not the same as participation. I have defined that participation entails an active role . In the questions I posed, I asked if the women had spoken at the community meeting. Of the women who said that they had attended a community meeting in the last 6 months, 22.22% of them said that they did not speak because they did not feel comfortable/confident. The theme of conversation is an influence on whether or not the women speak at the community meeting. Additionally, women think that the theme of the conversation influences if other women speak at the community meeting. In regards to women having more influence over issues in the community, 70.37% said that women have more influence over issues pertaining to health or education. The last questions concerned with women gender roles are still to be analyzed and quantified, however, I am satisfied with the progress so far. In my next post I will talk more specifically on what the answers to the questions mean in a qualitative sense.

Conducting Interviews

Conducting the interviews went for the most part, as planned. I gathered the sample necessary, 27 interviews from women of varying ages across the five focus groups of the community. One thing that could have been a barrier was the difference in language and colloquialism. I speak Mexican Spanish, which at the core is very similar to the rural Nicaraguan Spanish, however, there are words and pronunciation that are different. It was difficult at times for me to understand fully what the women were saying and vice versa. Conducting this research and speaking to these women has been one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences. I have learned so much about how the community is organized and how the women take care of their families and live in this part of Nicaragua. I am hoping that the data that I have collected and the conclusions that I draw can further help the community and enrich the partnership that I have started to develop with the women of the community. The next step in my research is the analyze the responses to the questions and compare them to the responses of other questions. In the next two weeks I will be working closely with Professor Aday who will assist me in analyzing the data. I am excited to see what I can learn from the interview responses!