Qualitative Changes in Communication Competency Among Women in Bihar, India: Heifer International’s Impact on Personal Transformation

Julien C. Mirivel 1 * , Avinash Thombre 2, Tusty ten Bensel 2, Kirk Leach 2, Benjamin Wood 3

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp. 163-184

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The United Nation (UN) lists ending poverty in all its forms as the number one prerogative among seventeen sustainable development goals. One organization that is seeking to make an impact on those who live in poverty is Heifer International, a global nonprofit organization based in the United States, whose mission is “to end world hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.” By using Values-Based Holistic Community Development, Heifer has helped to lift millions of people out of poverty. In this article, we present the results of a study we conducted in Bihar, India to assess the impact of Heifer International programming on participants’ communication competency. Grounded in over 100 interviews with women across four time periods, the results show that women who have partnered with Heifer International experience significant qualitative changes in communication competency across five areas: expressiveness, assertiveness, persuasiveness, openness, and positiveness. We discuss the implications of this work on communication competency and empowerment for women living in poverty and its impact on personal transformation.

Keywords: communication competency, poverty, community development, personal transformation