New Women’s Empowerment Project in Peru

Set Up of Our New Women's Empowerment Project

We have been working on the set up of a new Women's Empowerment Project in Peru. Located in Pinagua, just outside of Cusco, the project is now up and running. The project was set up to empower women from the village to have their own businesses so they are not completely reliant on their husbands. It will also allow them to have more control over their own lives.

Awareness, of women’s rights, social movements and critical thinking is growing in Peru. Yet, being a woman in Peru can still have its challenges. Especially in remote areas. A part of the problem is expectations towards women when it comes to their role in the family. They are generally expected to take care of the house and the children, while their husband is responsible for the income. In Pinagua, the women we are working with have previously not been able to have their own income. Therefore they have been dependent on the income of their husbands. This dynamic can highly affect the power relation within a household. Thanks to this project, the women will be able to have more control over their lives and financial choices.

Getting the Peru Women's Empowerment Project Started

Thanks to some generous funds from a lovely group of women from the Womens Empowerment Coaliation Organisation (WECO), we were able to get started on the project. Our Cusco Intern, Anna, worked closely with the group and the women in the community for the programme set up. She was happy to spare some time to give us an interview to share give us some insight into her experience and her time spent with the women of Pinagua.

Q - What does the Pinagua Women's Empowerment programme do?

A- The Pinagua programme is helping women in the community of Pinagua with starting their own business. The business involves raising and selling guinea pigs (here they are called cuy) and they are a Peruvian delicacy. A women’s group from the United States, WECO, provided the funding for the set up of the project. This group also gave the women of Pinagua a workshop on financial planning. They taught them how to budget money, as well as how to deal with emergencies; for example if something breaks or if an unexpected cost comes up. The women of Pingua will also receive a training on how to raise the cuys and properly take care of them.

Q- What is the main idea behind the programme?

A- The idea is to give the women financial independence, so that they are no longer relying on their husband for money. Sadly, the husbands occasionally abuse the fact that the women are relying in them for income, and it leaves the women with very little freedom.

Q - Can you tell us a little bit about the process of developing the programme?

Luz, our Peru Community Programme Manager, knows many of the women from Pinagua personally, as she is working with their children at Picaflor House. In this way, through daily communication with the women, Luz discovered their need for financial independence. In collaboration with the women, they concluded that starting a business through raising cuys would be appropriate work for the women. This is also applicable considering the high demand for cuy in this area. Luz was already in contact with WECO, the women’s group who helped finance the programme, and who came to help get the programme started.

Q - What was your role within the programme?

As the volunteer coordinator for Globalteer, and a Spanish speaker, I helped liaise between the community and the group of women from WECO that came to Peru to help set up the programme. I assured that everything which needed to be done before the group came had been done. Going to the women's empowerement project every day with the group allowed me to make sure that the process went well. Moreover, I helped with the building process for the houses for the cuys. I also follow up on the programme now that the group has left.

Q - What was it like for you, working with the women?

A - It was very interesting to see such a different way of life. The area is highly remote, and the people here are completely reliant on their livestock to make a living. I very much enjoyed working with the women, as they were so grateful and excited about this opportunity. It was also quite fascinating to discover that some of the women, I could not communicate with, as they could only speak Quechua.

Q - How was your interaction with the women from Pinagua?

A - They women from the community were all super excited. We could not build all the cuy houses at once, so during the process, all the women were eager to be next on the list. They were also very surprised that I can speak Spanish, and they appreciated it a lot.

Q - What do the women think about the programme?

They thought programme is really great, I could really see it by their excitement. It is just a shame that we cannot give all women this opportunity. There are still many other communities that would need this type of programme as well.

Q - How do you believe the programme can empower women?

The Women's Empowerment project will give the women their own business. It will give them financial security and stable income. Equally as important, it will give them more confidence by showing them that they are capable of running their own business, that they can do this! Some of the women do not have a formal education, so a big part of the programme is giving them this assurance, through having this responsibility.

Looking Ahead

Most of the cuy houses has now been built, and we are excited to follow the women from Pinagua on their journey, and to see how this programme effects the lives of these women long term. Stay tuned!