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. We want to allow them to take initiative when talking about difficult problems. Moreover, we want the young women to problem solve to help eachother as well, so that they can use these skills to help other girls in their villages.
Additionally, through other parts of the initiative we want to give women the chance to grow in confidence in having their own business, so that they can have financial independence. So that 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.
We are aware that the girls we have spoken to are keen on staying in education. This is essential to breaking the cycle of low education rates in rural communities. By supporting their desire to learn we are hopefully giving them the motivation to pursue their dreams in education so that they can pass on great skills and knowledge to other people they are in contact with!
Educated and empowered women can 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.
As you have read, machismo culture is a big problem in Peru. Therefore the Chicas Unidas project will be entirely female led. We hope the girls we reach feel that they have a safe space where they can learn and grow. There will be weekly sessions about topics such as self-esteem, girls rights and sexual health; as these are themes that are not usually talked about at school or in a family environment. Activities such as dance and self-defense will also be available so that they can try new things and have fun!
Our aim is to give girls the skills to be more confident when dealing with difficult situations in their lives. Additionally, we hope that girls will feel encouraged to pass on the information that they've learnt to other children from their villages. And so in the future, these girls will be able to take leadership in empowering other young girls within their community.
We hope to expand the Chicas Unidas project to other villages around Cusco. So that at some stage, every girl will have the opportunity to take part in the sessions provided by the initiative!