Date of Conferral





Human Services


Mary Bold


This case study explored the lived experiences of 8 participants in a microfinance sewing program in El Salvador. Numerous studies focused on empowering women by employing microfinance projects or programs in many countries; however, a lack of empirical data exists regarding Salvadoran women's perceptions about how a sewing program with teamwork affects women's empowerment. The purpose of this case study was to understand the women's personal stories, their obstacles as well as any factors they saw as empowering them. Guided by a constructionist framework, a sample of 8 participants: 5 who were sewing students and 3 who were employees, who shared their administrative perspectives about participants' skills, data collection and data analysis methods gained. Five themes emerged from the women's interviews about their sewing program experience: (a) program effect on women's well-being; (b) gained a means of income; (c) increased self-efficacy, confidence, and security; (d) worked in groups or teams; and (e) the teacher's positive influence. The 5 sewing student participants reported they developed self-efficacy and self-fulfillment in the sewing program. The women attributed their success to the teacher, who taught them sewing skills and provided guidance and encouragement. This study contributes to social change by providing insight for additional women's studies on women's empowerment, social work with families and children, and for MSW social work students.