Community empowerment plays a key role in the working of society. Providing support and training opportunities to communities and promoting socioeconomic growth can be of fundamental importance to the progress of any region but is particularly important in rural areas. Women in rural communities frequently have been confined to playing roles in the home, despite recent literature suggesting that empowering them can boost the development of their communities. Drawing on inductive qualitative research, this case study describes the perceptions of five rural women from Sarapiquí in the Northern Region of Costa Rica after undergoing training in tourism entrepreneurship in the period 2015-2018. It also explores how their experiences and empowerment processes have contributed to their community. Centered on feminist theory, the study presents the women’s perspectives by employing content and thematic analysis, using WebQDA software to digitally categorize semantic relationships. Data were collected and triangulated through semi-structured interviews, field observations, and document gathering. Results show the participants’ active involvement in the community, exploring the implications of their gender roles and of family influence (mostly that of immediate family), along with the women’s individual perceptions of empowerment and their reflections on what it feels like to be empowered women. They experienced empowerment to be a driving force that favors their personal lives and that further influences community development, yet they note that the path to becoming empowered is challenging and time consuming. They also stated that their training and professional development processes were keys to consolidating their sense of empowerment in the community. This study seeks to better apprehend the experiences of women and the role they play in rural communities.


community, Costa Rica, empowerment, entrepreneurship, rural tourism, women

Author Bio(s)

Patricia Lopez Estrada holds an education doctorate from the University of Florida. She is an advocate for qualitative research, working as a researcher and education extensionist in the Huetar Norte Region of Costa Rica. Her current research and extension projects focus on the empowerment of women in rural communities, enhancing linguistic skills in rural communities promoting rural tourism, and analyzing the social phenomena of specific educational modalities (distance, combined, and in-person education) in post-pandemic times. She currently works as an Associate Professor in the School of Languages and Social Sciences at the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, San Carlos Campus. Please direct correspondence to plopez.estrada@gmail.com.

Lady Fernández-Mora holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University for International Cooperation. Her career has been dedicated to teaching and undertaking education extension and research projects. She is currently working as coordinating manager to socio-economic stakeholders in Costa Rica´s Huetar Norte Region. Her projects focus on the management of sustainable rural and smart tourism destinations, with an emphasis on issues such as digital transformation and wellness tourism.

Estefanía Pérez-Hidalgo is an advanced student in Business Administration, currently majoring in Computing Engineering at the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, San Carlos Campus. Her professional growth has been fostered through her work as an assistant in two education extension projects on diagnosing and enhancing the linguistic competences of a rural community in the Northern Region of Costa Rica, as well as three qualitative research studies pm the perceptions of primary English teachers with respect to distance and combined education during the pandemic, and on the perceptions of empowerment of women in a rural community in Sarapiquí, Costa Rica.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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