Empowering Women in Peru
The best way to help these women is to empower them and give them the confidence, tools and skills to help themselves by starting their own small businesses. The businesses not only allow the women to grow in confidence, it also gives them more financial independence. They will not be completely reliant on their husbands for all their needs. Due to this they also gain a stronger position in the household. And it also benefits their family overall as it provides another income helping the family become more financially stable.
Not only will they be able to provide more basic necessities for their family, many of the women we work with have expressed the desire to use the additional income to further their childrens' education! This is essential to breaking the cycle of low education rates in rural communities. And they will also be providing a great role model for their children and passing on great skills and knowledge!
Educated and empowered women can also teach and inspire their children and the wider community; helping to raise awareness of women rights and contribute to the changing expectations of women.
Businesses for Women in Rural Areas
The first village we identified with the need and want for this sort of programme was the small village of Pinagua, a short distance from our after-school education programme in Oropesa, Picaflor House. Our Community Programme Manager, Luz, worked closely with the women in Pinagua to identify the types of businesses that would be manageable and sustainable for the women.
With the women we identified 2 options for business setups: cuy (guinea pig) houses and greenhouses for organic farming. Cuy is a common delicacy in Peru, and raising and selling cuy can be quite lucrative. Many businesses and restaurants in Cusco have expressed a desire for more options to purchase organic produce; making organic farming another suitable option for the women.
These business not only present lucrative options for the women, they can also be built on the women's land and can be managed in the time frames the women have available. Therefore, they will not have to compromise on their duties in the house or responsibility to their families; they will still be able to care for their children & house while running their own business. In fact, the income from the business will allow them the help their family even more than before.
Each women will receive her own cuy house or greenhouse, which will benefit her and family; which in rural areas are still quite large. We also want to equip the women with the skills to succeed! In addition to the business we also provide training and classes on how to run and manage their businesses. This includes topics such as budgeting, what to do when something breaks or unexpected costs come up, as well as best practices for caring for and raising cuy or growing organically.
Pinagua and Expanding
So far we have built cuy houses in Pingua and have some women waiting for greenhouses. Once the women in Pinagua are set up with their businesses we will expand to another nearby village where the women are also in a similar situation and have expressed a strong desire to be a part of the programme.