Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


International Studies

First Advisor

Kent Warren

First Committee Member

Michael Osmera

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Kirkhart


The purpose of this research study was to analyze the success of the Peace Corps’ Municipal Development Program in its role as a change agent in the empowerment of rural Guatemalan women, and includes an exploration into the intercultural factors that may have affected the outcomes. I used my Peace Corps site of Santa Cruz El Chol, Guatemala as the case study for this research. I reviewed literature in five areas to use as a foundation to guide my research. This included literature regarding Guatemalan history and Guatemalan women’s issues, women’s empowerment in the international development context, Peace Corps, change agentry, and intercultural relations. I obtained data from four different groups. I interviewed a focus group of female leaders from El Chol, obtained questionnaires from 42 rural women from El Chol and its surrounding villages, interviewed three Peace Corps Guatemala staff members, and gathered surveys from 18 returned Peace Corps volunteers. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered via open-ended questions, multiple-choice questions, and scale-based questions. An analysis of the findings revealed implications in three areas. The first area focused on Guatemalan women who are especially vulnerable to institutional and domestic violence, which leads to a lack of educational and economic opportunities and continues to prevent their empowerment. Next, the Peace Corps volunteers were generally satisfied with their service, but felt traits of Guatemalan society and culture prevented them from positively influencing women’s empowerment. Additionally, findings revealed that Peace Corps volunteers served as change agents in that they saw themselves and were seen by others as positive role models for the Guatemalan women with whom they worked. Finally, time management styles, differences in perception of gender roles, and direct versus indirect communication styles sometimes clashed to cause issues in U. S. American and Guatemalan abilities to work effectively together.