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Building on representations of indigenous women as vulnerable, a development category of “indigenous women” from the 1990s sought to make them political leaders, make them statistically knowable, and equip them with self-esteem. The chapter examines this policy in light of critical accounts of neoliberal active citizenship, (post)colonial knowledge production about social difference, and (post)colonial expectations of acceptable modern behavior in the public sphere. Close analysis of the implementation of this policy approach reveals how indigenous women are exhorted to change their social relations, forms of knowledge, and embodied dispositions in line with postcolonial hierarchies. Referring to a leadership project for Tsáchila women, the chapter documents how the fuzzy category “indigenous women” reproduced colonial tropes about abject subalterns with low self-esteem. Reading this policy against diverse women’s insights, the chapter documents other ways of knowing the barriers faced by women to have their voices heard and examples of projects designed by and for themselves.

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