How do you strengthen the role of women in their communities and provide access to economic opportunities? In Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras the answer lies in renewable energy.
The position of Indigenous women
For Indigenous women in Central America, life is anything but easy. The violence they face increases by the day. The figures are dramatic. Just take Honduras, where 386 women were murdered in 2023, and 16 in just the first two weeks of January 2024.
In addition, the economic situation in Central America is dire. Run-away inflation, particularly impacts Indigenous and rural families. The cost of living has shot up, and prices of fossil fuels and food in particular are skyrocketing. But these communities are ignored by governments and cannot count on any support to help them out financially or with job opportunities.
We encourage women in rural and isolated areas to start businesses based on renewable energy. This not only gives them greater (economic) independence in a male-dominated society, it also decreases dependence on harmful fossil fuels.
During a targeted series of workshops, our partners are training almost 450 women learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, leadership and business management.
Training on gender norms
One of the workshops taught local partners how to calculate the way daily domestic chores are distributed between men and women. The idea was to enable family members to re-distribute the burden more fairly, thus reducing the tasks performed by women. Now participants are regularly analyzing negative practices imposed by social gender norms and thinking of ways to change how these norms impact the family and women in the community.
This training emphasized strategies for developing women’s leadership skills to strengthen their capacity to influence and contribute to their organization and community. We saw that the sessions had a significant impact on the women participating. Each of them targeted the spaces they wanted to occupy and identified the women they admire as leaders in the community.
Improving or starting a business
An important part of the series of workshops deals with entrepreneurship. Women are provided tools to improve or start a sustainable business, for example in coffee, handmade fabrics, food or livestock. Their businesses not only make use of renewable energy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, they also contribute to sustainable local food systems.
With the access to seed funding we are also providing, women can start their businesses and take the lead in building the sustainable future of their communities.
Unique, local collaboration
In all three countries we work with unique communities and local organizations. We collaborate with Lenca women in Honduras, Mayan women in Guatemala, and mestiza and Nahuat-Pipil women in El Salvador.
Our work is made possible by donations from individual givers. Their support kickstarted the program, which is now financed by Global Affairs Canada.