In spite of the ongoing challenges faced by the women of the Bees, the ninety-six women in the women’s bank that PDA is supporting have continued to organise themselves to support their families and the organisation, and to stand up for their rights. Highlights of the report include:
- Action on International Women’s Day on March 8 where they marched to one of the military bases on their lands, planted a white flag for peace and read out a communique calling for the removal of the Mexican Military from their lands. See the Communinque.
- At the end of March the 12 groups who had taken out loans repaid all their loans plus interest of 6% (that is re-invested into the program) and then in April, 14 groups took out new loans. See below for report details.
- During this period the women also opened up a shop in San Cristobal where they can sell their produce, such as honey and also their weavings.
- Attendance by the women at a number of regional and national events where they represented the organisation.
Women’s report has been translated by Justin Coburn, August 2015
Martina Diaz, Project Manager: “The Project continues to open new paths for the women, with more women joining not just for the economic benefits but in defence of their rights, including the right to participation and the right to a life with dignity.”
Photo: A change of leadership of the women’s co-ordination
In addition to the actual productive projects, the women’s saving and bank project allows women to come together to share their stories and work together to address problems that affect them.
“When the women are not animated, our task, as coordinators is to animate them, listen to them, hear their problems and work together to see how we can over come them. Sometimes the women think they cannot do the work, cannot keep the accounts, but our role is to help them and to work on helping to improve the women’s self esteem.” – Antonia, co-ordinator
Photo: Women’s Group in Los Chorros outside the centre they built with funds from the project
The savings bank has allowed the women to have a common fund, which in the words of the women from Los Chorros, ‘we feel that when we have some money and are able to support the organisation and do other things such as the women’s house we built, it gives us satisfaction and a calmness in our heart because the men take notice of our efforts and therefore out word has more value.”
Photo: Women’s shop in Nuevo Yibeljoj.
The women in the project from Nuevo Yibeljo used their loan to set up a shop which has provided income for their families as well providing goods for their community.
In Tzajalukum the 18 women in the group, have been working with cows and have recognised the benefits of working in a group as opposed to individually. The work and benefits are shared out among the women.
Honey Bees in Aurora Esquipula
In Aurora Esquipula in addition to work with pigs, the women are also starting to work in honey and in 2015 they produced ten litres of honey. Money gained from this has allowed them to buy clothes for their children, food and books for school.
Women working with pigs in Aurora Esquipula.
One woman from Aurora Esquipula used the money she has made from the projects to buy her own shop and now she is making money from that to buy medicines, food and her transport. She said, ‘the project is a good initiative. We just have to work responsibly.’
Photo: women placing a white peace flag outside the military base in Majomut
On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, the women decided to put a while peace flag on the military base in Majomut, as a sign of peace and a symbol of their desire to sow peace in their communities. They read out a communique in front of the military base saying how the military does not bring security, but violence and in particular, violence against women.
Participation in training events, workshops and forums.
The support provided by PDA has allowed the women to participate in events, workshops and forums such as:
11 women participated in the forum on the “Defence of Mother Earth.”
6 women participated in the Zapatista event about opposition to mega projects on their lands
6 women presented the video PDA helped to make about the women’s work at a film festival in San Cristobal