University of Rhode Island
Mentor: Marc Herold, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Economic Development Frank McCann, Ph.D. - Professor of History
Nicaraguan Women and the Sandinista Revolution: "Women's Needs," Feminism, and Social Change - A Dialogue
The Sandinista Revolution challenged the traditional roles of Nicaraguan women. My research examines the extent of change resulting from the revolution. Some observers have argued that there has been no change, while others see improvement. The advances made under the Sandinista government (1979-1990) include education and health programs, and legal reforms which functioned to increase women's awareness of, and participation in, the revolutionary process. Yet, women continued to encounter problems (e.g. domestic abuse, rape, double burden of working in and outside of the home , heading single households, etc.).
Women's liberation within a male-dominated revolution produced tension between independent feminists and female party militants. Feminists asserted a need for autonomy from political parties in order to create space for discussion of women's issues. Party militants (mostly socialists) believed that women's liberation had to be part of the overall struggle for freedom from oppression. They saw the revolution as the best route to changing women's status. Some observers of the Nicaraguan experience attribute the persistence of women's subordination to factors such as custom, sexism, economic turmoil, and clerical opposition.
By studying the diverse perspectives on revolutionary change, I will highlight the complexity of the history of Nicaraguan women in the dramatic years since the overthrow of Somoza.