Story behind the research: Meet Carolina Buendia!

February 16, 2022

This year we give the spotlight to DocNet members. Like UniPID, Buendia is also curious to understand the impact of partnerships. Have a read and take a look at what she told us!

Carolina Buendia Sarmiento
Carolina Buendia Sarmiento

How would you describe yourself?

I am a doctoral student at the Political, Societal and Regional Change programme in the University of Helsinki and a Research Analyst for the United States Institute of Peace. I am from Colombia and have been living in Finland since 2018. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in social sciences, specifically, in peace, mediation and conflict studies. My professional experience has been working with NGOs locally and internationally to support peacebuilding and women’s rights project design and implementation.

How did you end up being a researcher?

I started my path to becoming a doctoral student on Global Development Studies early on my career by integrating research both in my studies and work life focusing on strengthening the peacebuilding and women’s rights fields. For instance, in my academic career I have focused on qualitative research. During my bachelor’s degree for my thesis, I conducted research on feminism, women's collective action and peacebuilding in Colombia; and for my master’s thesis I focused on women’s experiences of gender-based violence during migration to Norway. While in my professional experience in the NGO sector I have strived to integrate research into project design and implementation for development cooperation initiatives on peacebuilding and women’s empowerment. This has allowed me to explore the more practical implications of my research work to shape strategies for project-based work in contexts such as Colombia, Venezuela, Myanmar, Syria and Zimbabwe.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about yourself and your research?

That both are intertwined. The journey to where I am now it is what has inspired my research and my research interests have been shaped by my personal and professional experiences.

What are you currently researching?

My research focuses on how women's empowerment is affected by the increasing role of the private sector in funding Finnish development policy initiatives in Kenya. Specifically, I am looking to understand how different aid donors collaborating in partnerships (such as NGOs, private sector, and state officials) define women’s empowerment and the strategy to achieve it. How these diverse donors interact and cooperate with each other within partnerships to create a common understanding of women’s empowerment that guides their actions and how the selected definition impacts the empowerment of women. My research aims to contribute to understanding the different interpretations of aid donors concerning what empowering women means and why it is needed.

Which are your interests in research?

I'm interested in the following topics/issues: development Cooperation, feminism, gender studies, agency and participation, post-colonialism, political economy, and women's empowerment.

What do you do in your free time? Hobbies/Interests?

I enjoy exercising and swimming, watching movies, reading literary fiction and coloring.

How do you update yourself in your field?

Webinars, conferences and readings keep me updated on the latest trends and inspired to continue researching. I love learning new things and finding new challenges.

What inspires you?

People committed to improve our societies.

Photo credits: Kien Do, 2015, on Unsplash