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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Women, Collective Action and Empowerment - An Economic Approach

Carla is affiliated with the Raiffeisen Chair "Economics of Agricultural Cooperatives" with research emphasis on explanation of the impacts and change processes of agricultural cooperatives. She focuses on dairy cooperatives, gender analysis in agricultural economics and sustainable rural development.

Photo: Carla Dohmwirth
Small-scale farmers play an important role for the sustainable transformation of rural areas in developing countries. They operate at the interface of land use systems, economic institutions and cultural change – often under marginalized living conditions with poor access to resources, information and political participation. Cooperatives are one governance form to organize these producers in order to combine the benefits of small-scale family farms with economies of scale, and increase their collective bargaining power. However, cooperatives and producer organizations are not gender-neutral but rather embedded in societal structures that include gender-based discrimination. Therefore, women are often under-represented in mixed-gender cooperatives and their active involvement in committees is low Women’s cooperatives are an alternative form of organization. These consist only of female members and are meant to ensure women’s participation in decision-making and their effective control over production and income. Micro-credit groups and agricultural cooperatives in developing countries are increasingly organized as women’s cooperatives. However, the impact of these organizations on women’s empowerment is discussed quite controversially. One likely reason for the different outcomes of cooperatives with regard to women’s empowerment is their heterogeneity in institutional and organizational characteristics as well as the socio-economic heterogeneity of members. The PhD project wants to conduct a rigorous analysis of such governance-level and individual-level attributes is needed to better understand under which conditions cooperatives can or cannot improve the economic autonomy of women. Empirically, it explores these questions in the context of women-only cooperatives in India.

Carla obtained her bachelor degree in Agricultural Sciences at the Humboldt University in 2012. She continued her education in the International Master of Rural Development at the University of Ghent, where she graduated in 2014. Carla studied and conducted field research in Colombia (Tunja) and India (Bangalore). Her working experience includes volunteering at the Young Friend of the Earth office in Berlin as well as a position as student assistant at the division of Horticultural Economics.




Carla Dohmwirth, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 (0)30 2093 - 6179
E-mail: carla.dohmwirth@hu-berlin.de