‘‘We have a lot of goodwill, but we still need to eat…’’: Valuing Women’s Long Term Voluntarism in Community Development in Lima
- This paper looks at the contribution of grass-roots women working as volunteers on long-term development projects.
- It draws on secondary literature on women’s voluntary activities, with a focus on health care. The paper problematizes the widespread move towards increased reliance on voluntary and third-sector provision.
The paper examines the extent to which women carry out health promotion work. It found that women in Peru have performed this role as more than “just voluntary work” for at least a decade. It also suggests that this type of voluntary work has become normalized in the face of the continuing shortfalls in the provision of health and social care. The paper highlights the gendered nature of long-term volunteering and examines the dilemmas involved in balancing the need for community development with the need for women workers to be correctly recognized and remunerated for their contribution, especially when long-term.
The paper seeks to advance debates on the professionalization of voluntary work and addresses the issue of economic remuneration for health promoters. It also provides governments and policymakers with new perspectives on the overall understanding of the uneven and gendered nature of volunteering. Finally, it concludes by questioning the sustainability of the long-term—and largely unpaid—involvement of women volunteers as the basis of community development projects.