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Health Studies
Denis Maxwell

HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Of choice, chance and contingency: Strategies” & Tactics for survival – Cornwall Introduction  Mainstream development narratives see women’s empowerment as an end destination and perpetuate the tail that independence they receive through women’s groups and microfinance credit loans allows them to make choices and specific career strategies  This paper seeks to highlight that choice in matter of trade or job has more to do with chance and contingencies than choice, microfinance loans and women’s groups help but its more about the access to resources as determined through social relationships that truly impact their course of life, less empowerment as a destination but a journey filled with false starts, setbacks and eventual triumphs for some  Making clear strategic choices is dependent on having the power to realise them which not all women can fully exercise  Women are agents and they hold relational, situational and provisional positions in the lives of their loved ones  We need to factor contingency into representation of women’s working lives in development discourse and we need an approach that can accommodate the mediation of agency and the tensions between autonomy and connectedness throughout women’s lives  Contradiction of sorts – empowerment is supposed to be an individuating process but when linked to women it is more about removing themselves AND their family out of poverty and aiding the economy of the village or area they live in as a whole (maternal altruists)  Purpose of article: look at the concept of choice in the lives of women in a small Nigerian town partaking in small scale trading Situating women’s “careers”  Career carries with it the implication of progress, pursuing a career connotes having made a deliberate choice from the options available o Dependent on asset endowments, opportunity structures as well as the interconnectedness of their social lives everyday o Contingencies and relations also play a role  Trade begins at a young age through apprenticeships with older family members, some do it to supplement their income or it is their primary economic source  Trade becomes a part of who they are, not simply who they are  Whether something is a strategic CHOICE or a tactic dependent on: o Starting capital o Acquired skills o Social structure, sociality o Self-esteem, confidence and self-efficacy  Most people don’t do the risk and change careers or trades, usually speculation of possible trading is a luxury only affordable to richer women  Tactics are used more than choices  3 case studies HLTC02 WINTER 2013 Against all odds (Alhaja Taliatu)  Niche trade: galura – dye used to decorate the mats that are made by poorest women  Worked for he
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