This article examines perceptions of indigenous women of the Bilingual Indigenous Education Model for Life and Work (MIB) programme which the Mexican Government initiated a decade ago as an alternative route for indigenous youth and adults into basic education. Programme objectives include the promotion of equal access to quality basic education by reducing gender and ethnic disparities and the empowerment of indigenous peoples. A particular focus on the gender dimension of the MIB programme is not only mandatory because of the existing gender disparities in education – two-thirds of indigenous adults without literacy skills are women, – but also because the vast majority of its participants are women (92%). Therefore, this article intends to explore the empowering potential of the programme. The analysis is drawing from a diagnostic study conducted in 2012 considering enabling and constraining factors of the MIB programme by using four analytical dimensions – acceptance, appropriation, relevance and usefulness. The analysis of the findings, resulting from discussions with indigenous women, which includes an additional gender dimension, reveal a range of issues that need to be addressed in order to better exploit the empowering potential of the MIB programme for indigenous women.