Maria Eugenia Choque
Fellow Since 1996
Centro De Estudios Multidisciplinarios Aymara
This profile was prepared when Maria Eugenia Choque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
María Eugenia Choque is training indigenous women to assume positions of power equal to those of men in the Aymara system of government, called the ayllu. Working through an old system of women's organizations called the Confederation of Women, she creates forums where women learn to help each other speak out and question authority without fear of being ridiculed. María Eugenia teaches them to play soccer in order to learn how to compete and the value of working together. She is finding that women who learn leadership roles in the ayllu maintain their new habits even when their families are forced to migrate to cities during periods of drought or other changes.María Eugenia confronts head-on the macho culture that does not tolerate or value women's participation. Based on her concept that gender roles are learned, she believes that if men and women learn to work together, eventually they can change patterns of inequality. While she trains the women, she also works with the men to help them understand that local government that includes women can be a benefit to the community.