Gender Seminar Series
Gleicy Mailly da Silva

Meanings of Empowerment: Black Feminism and Entrepreneurship in Development Programmes in Brazil

Gleicy Mailly da Silva, State University of Campinas
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Room S5

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This presentation addresses how the category “empowerment” has been employed as a discursive instrument that aggregates a diverse ensemble of experiences of Black college women sited between the diffusion of feminist ideas and the legitimation of entrepreneurial practices. The main investigation draws on two stages: first, the historical reconstruction of the category “empowerment” in feminist theory; second, an ethnographic research carried out between 2019 and 2021 of two social projects aimed at women's empowerment – involving the partnership between transnational companies and public actors –, namely (a) Afrolab, dedicated to promoting entrepreneurial training and financial education courses to Black women; and (b) Plano de Menina (Girl Plan), which offers debates on feminism and financial education courses for young women living in the southern peripheral regions of the city of São Paulo. The main question is how the widespread use of the empowerment category has taken a central role in mediating and enunciating the demands of an increasingly complex and multifaceted political subject, providing forms of subjectivity and awareness that are situated, often in conflictive and paradoxical manners, between the transformations provided by flexible capitalism and the continuous fight for social justice.


About the speaker

Gleicy Mailly da Silva holds a PhD in Social Anthropology at University of São Paulo (USP). Her thesis focuses on the analysis of cultural and economic circuits developed by Black entrepreneurs in Brazil. In 2015, she completed a research residency at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. Since 2019, she has been a collaborator professor and postdoctoral researcher at the Nucleus for Gender Studies Pagu at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. In the academic year 2022-2023, she is a Visiting Fellow at the Gender Centre at the Geneva Graduate Institute. Currently, her research interests relate to feminisms, women’s development programmes, entrepreneurship, social mobility and precarious work.



The Gender Centre has developed this series of research seminars in order to offer a platform for exchange for students, doctoral students in particular, and researchers whose work includes a gender perspective. During this monthly series, researchers have the opportunity to discuss their work, meet peers from different disciplines at the Graduate Institute, as well as interact with other students, guest speakers and faculty members.

See the programme of this semester's Gender Seminar Series here.


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