"Era un pleito" : gender dynamics and the politics of immediate needs in Loma Verde, Nicaragua



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Much attention has been paid to the increasingly important role of women as social and political actors in Latin America. Though recent scholarship has examined women's activism in primarily urban contexts, this paper focuses on the case of poor rural women in Nicaragua. Based on participant observation and interview data collected over five consecutive weeks, this paper traces the pathways by which women's activism emerged in a context where traditional gender roles still predominate. These women's forms of participation—often on the basis of their interests as mothers—constitute a "politics of immediate needs” that responds to concrete matters of survival while introducing new issues of direct concern to women into the public sphere. However, community participation has also generated additional burdens for women who now juggle productive, reproductive, and activist roles. By exploring the complexities of these dynamics, this paper provides an ethnographic account of the highly nuanced contestatory process by which women enter the public sphere, collectively organize, and begin to challenge various gendered aspects of their society.