Abstract for Developmental Studies Association Needs to include: Key words (up to 5) Research question/issues Theory/conceptual framework Methods used Results/conclusions ************************************ Keywords: Systems Thinking, Systemic Intervention, Boundary Critique, Rural Development, Action Research Rain or shine, 365 days a year, thousands of women in rural regions of Nicaragua walk down slender dirt paths to their businesses nestled in nearby tropical hillsides. The women’s businesses represent diverse market sectors producing predominantly agricultural products (e.g., cocoa, dairy) to be sold locally. However, as their production grows, the women start to sell their products at formal markets, hours away from their villages, with a longer-term ambition of international trade. These endeavours promise profoundly different futures for the entrepreneurs compared with their current realities. At best, the women could reap socio-economic rewards for themselves, educational opportunities for their children, abundant and healthy nutrition for their families, and environmental healing for their country. At worst, the collapse of these projects could produce successive generations of poverty and shattered dreams. Nevertheless, by participating in these small businesses, the women are, for better or for worse, charting a course of action that, once embarked upon, will forever alter their lives. Over a four month period, design meetings and workshops were facilitated by this researcher and a team of students and faculty from the National Agrarian University in Managua, Nicaragua. Building on a Feminist Systems Thinking (FST) methodology (Stephens, 2012, 2013), the workshops provided opportunities for business owners (men and women) to conduct an analysis of their own micro and small enterprises in rural communities using FST. Throughout this process, the researcher sought to understand several research questions: 1. How can FST be further developed in a culturally relevant way? 2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of FST in these contexts? 3. What is the effect of including FST in a larger gender analysis process in the dairy industry in specific regions of Nicaragua? Stephens’s methodology (Stephens, 2013), based on a comparison of selected research on cultural ecofeminism and systems thinking, concludes that both share similar epistemological perspectives and goals, and have the potential to inform each other. An area of potential growth for systems thinking is to go beyond a general concern with power relations and engage more explicitly with situations where sexual oppression or gender-based marginalisation could be present. Conversely, the embracing of theoretical and methodological pluralism (widely explored in systems thinking) could help work through epistemological differences that currently splinter feminism’s influence (Stephens, Jacobson et al., 2010; Stephens, 2012). The resulting methodology from this research, tentatively called Feminist Systemic Intervention (FSI), further developed the above ideas in the context of various practical and participative activities (e.g., observations, interviews, workshops) undertaken in Nicaragua with broad stakeholder groups and organizations. This paper describes the process and findings of the introduction of systems thinking to rural communities, together with theoretical and methodological reflections on the implications for the new FSI. .