Women’s empowerment

Goal: To improve the lives of Mayan Women

This will be achieved by:

  1. Increasing women’s savings, access to credit and income.
  2. Increasing skills, capacity and education of women
  3. Promoting and defending the rights of women.

Background: PDA’s work with the women of The Bees began in 2006 with the establishment of the first women’s leadership group within The Bees. That group focused on capacity building, education and rights.

In 2010, the women began a savings program that PDA supported by matching the amount each woman saved under a peso for peso scheme.

In 2012 the women commenced the micro-credit program with the establishment of a women’s bank. Ten different groups borrowed funds for their own micro-enterprises from chooks, to pigs, to shops. All funds plus interest were paid on time.

As at 2014 there are 15 women’s groups who have taken micro-loans for various productive projects. There are now over 100 women benefiting directly from the savings and loans aspect of this project.

Problems faced by the women (as stated by the women):

  • “Lack of good quality health care
  • Limited access to medicine and hospitals
  • We lack access to money
  • Lack of rights and respect for women
  • Lack of good quality food and clean water
  • Alcoholism among the men in our communities
  • We do not have access to a shop where we can buy essential items
  • Lack of housing because we refuse to accept the offers from the government.”

Responses to the problem:

The women have actively organised themselves. Each community has one or two representatives that meet once a month to inform each other of what is happening in their communities, plan activities and determine what they want to do. It was from this process that the three main goals emerged.:

1. Increasing women’s savings, access to credit and income.

This has been achieved through:

Savings Groups: Women form savings groups where PDA matches their savings peso for peso (up to AUD $5/mth).  The women in the group will manage their own funds and be able to access these funds for medical emergencies and other needs.

Micro-credit bank: After a year of proven savings the women’s groups are able to borrow small amounts of micro-credit for small projects aimed to increase income. PDA provides support to the women’s groups for the implementation of their projects in order to maximise the probability of success. Interest charged is used to administer the project and increase capital so that other women can join.

2.  Increasing skills, capacity and education of women

As part of the project, PDA provide ongoing accompaniment to the women to assist them with the running of their projects as well as providing training and capacity building on different areas such as book-keeping, literacy and Spanish.

3. Defending and promoting the rights of women.

Women will receive training and information on defending their rights whilst women who have their rights violated will be supported in their efforts to seek justice.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Increased skills, capacity and education among the women
  • Increased income leading to better health and education outcomes
  • Reduced violations of women’s rights
  • Greater self-determination among the women
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Greater representation and participation of women within the organisation
  • Improved quality of life of the women