At the IAF, we know that women are crucial leaders and stakeholders in building communities that are more prosperous, secure, and democratic. That’s why we ensure women’s voices are heard and reflected in the leadership of each of our partner organizations.
Through Women INvesting in Growth and Security (WINGS), a two-year, $7.5 million IAF initiative, the IAF is deliberately supporting more than 40 grassroots organizations and women-led enterprises that empower women across Latin America and the Caribbean. Our small grants go a long way in helping women put their innovative and ambitious ideas into action and, in the process, improve their lives and the lives of their communities.
Extreme poverty can be a primary motivator for mass migrations from Central America to the United States. For example, three in five Hondurans live in poverty, and Guatemalan children under age 5 have among the highest levels of stunted growth in the world. IAF grantee partners help increase family incomes and create jobs in the region, reducing food insecurity and strengthening communities.
Women INvesting in Growth and Security (WINGS) grantee partners fund economic development projects ranging from helping female flower farmers to diversify and increase production, to improving an artisan women’s group’s administrative and management capabilities, to boosting women into ranching, construction, and other male-dominated industries through vocational and leadership education. In Honduras, for instance, indigenous women learn sustainable farming methods and advances in marketing their fruits and jams. While in El Salvador women learn savings and loan management. And in Guatemala, women learn to use technology such as Google Forms, collaboration tools and graphic design apps, to immediately make their businesses more efficient and productive. These efforts boost women’s confidence and skills to make the most of engaging in the economy as workers or entrepreneurs, improving their livelihoods and local economies.
Women in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala suffer some of the highest rates of violence in the world, which can fuel asylum claims and other efforts to leave for the United States or other places. In fact, the majority of women migrants to the United States come from Honduras, which is considered among the most dangerous places on the planet to be female. Women and children who flee are frequently subjected to violence and other dangers on their journeys.
Through WINGS, IAF grantee partners assist survivors of domestic abuse and other violence by helping them prepare for the job market and transition toward financial independence, enabling them to leave abusive environments and support their children. Grantees also target support to women who endure additional persecution and discrimination, such as women with disabilities, as well as those who are indigenous or from other marginalized groups. In Guatemala, for example grantees help women learn leadership and advocacy skills to organize for their human rights and communicate the contributions and value of women to their communities.
The IAF also targets Women INvesting in Growth and Security (WINGS) grants to promote civic engagement and democratic principles in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the region of Guatemala with the highest rate of emigration, women conduct social audits, a practice that uses existing laws and regulations to ensure that development initiatives are implemented following due process. Training in citizenship and democracy strengthens these women’s connection to civil society and local governments, enabling them to promote the rights of women and youth or establish a municipal office on women.
The pursuit of gender equality and inclusion stabilizes families and communities and gives victims alternatives to forced migration. Helping women build better communities also strengthens our own country’s relationships, and fulfills our strategic interests in Latin American and the Caribbean.