Le’ts celebrate International Women’s Day with women who are working to create not only economic prosperity but also for the rights of many other women.
In Talcomunca, a small corner of the municipality of Izalco, El Salvador, life is not easy. But this doesn’t prevent Sonia Brito, mother of six, organic producer and member of the Agricultural Association of Women Producers (Asociación Agropecuaria de Mujeres Produciendo en la Tierra R. L., (AMSATI), dream about the “good life” of her family and their community.
Sonia is one of the founders and an active member of AMSATI. She has been working with the association for more than 10 years in search of opportunities to empower women. She talks about the opportunity to have financial independence, to be able to claim women’s rights, and to make their own decisions. “It is a long road, and it will take time, but with the support from the IAF we have hope and continue fighting for our rights.”
Ruth Yarigua lives in the municipality of Charagua, Bolivia. She began working as an activist for gender equality in her early teens and worked with several groups in a range of positions. Motherhood did not stop her from supporting women’s groups. Along with household responsibilities, she has represented women at a local and regional level as a member of several women-owned micro-businesses. In addition, she took advantage of any training opportunity that came her way in order to learn how to benefit her community.
Recently, Ruth has been representing her community at the department level and is one of the trainers for women and youth for the Fundación Centro Arakuaarenda an IAF community partner and grassroots organization.
Ruth is also working to strengthen the social and political role of women. This week Arakuaarenda is supporting a women’s campaign, “Adequate Public Funds for Equality,” which focuses on changing the perception of women’s rights. The campaign urges municipalities to use public funds in meaningful ways, such as to prevent violence against women.
Gender is not commonly an obstacle to advancement among recyclers. A daughter and granddaughter of recyclers, Nora has been a leader since her teenage years. At 14, she began attending school at night to leave days free to help support her family. Since early 1999, she has worked as the head of the Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá which has more than 20,000 members. Nora is a constant voice at all levels, and she meets regularly with mayors, ministers, donors and journalists to share her experiences in Colombia, not only for the benefit of the recycling workers but for the environment. She is a source of inspiration for her commitment to work with marginalized communities. About her own work, she says,“I’m a grassroots recycler, which means that I offer an essential public service that allows us to recover materials that would otherwise end up in landfills or incinerators.” Read more
“Being poor is difficult for everyone, and being female and poor is even harder. And the opportunities for females are minimal.” This is one of the reasons that Katia Ferreira, a fashion designer, has been motivated to work with women artisans in disadvantaged communities around Brasilia, Brazil. At IAF-supported community partner Instituto Proeza, the women learn to make garments and embroidery for high value products. At the same time, Katia, have adopted a unique methodology to raise self-esteem in the women who are members of the grassroots organization.
The hundreds of women who search for training in the classrooms of Instituto Proeza build self-respect in a therapeutic way of representing their life stories in their embroidered mandalas. “They learn not only to embroider, but they go through a healing process in the preparation and display of their art,” says Katia.