By Sydney Perlotto, Awamaki
As another International Women’s Day approaches, we at Awamaki asked ourselves: What makes International Women’s Day worth celebrating? As a non-profit working for rural women’s empowerment in Peru with a staff made up of Peruvian and international women, sometimes it feels like every day is International Women’s Day.
These women who work for and are impacted by Awamaki inspire us, so this year, we thought we would go directly to the source of what International Women‘s Day is about – and ask some of these women to reflect on what the day means to them.
Operations Director Yovanna Candela sees International Women’s Day as a day for “recognizing the equal rights of women and men, as well as a day for recognizing the performance of women both professionally and within their homes.” Yovanna enjoys interacting daily with both our local and international teams at Awamaki and seeing how our programs impact more than just our direct beneficiaries.
One of those indirect beneficiaries is Eulogia Quispe, the 13-year-old daughter of an Awamaki weaver. Eulogia has seen the opportunities that weaving has created for her mother. She told us her dream is to grow up to “be a professional like my mother, so I am studying textiles.” Although Isabela is a single mother who does not know how to read or write, the money she earns weaving allows her to not only care for her daughter, but also to serve as a successful role model for her.
Women’s empowerment is also important to Carys John, an 18-year-old Sustainable Tourism volunteer with Awamaki. Carys says “International Women’s Day means recognizing that gender inequality is still a problem all around the globe.” She chose to work with Awamaki because “our goal is to empower those we work with, and [International Women’s Day] at Awamaki means recognizing the achievements of these wonderful women who work so hard for their families and communities.”
For Jenny Alvarez Molina, International Women’s Day means providing opportunities for her daughter Bianca, who is six years old. Jenny teaches Spanish through one of Awamaki’s programs. She has big dreams for her daughter, hoping that “she will be able to study at university, since I was not able to.” She says that economic opportunities for women “are very good because women are able to have an income, and in turn create more stable lives for their children.”
Mercedes Durand, head of our Women’s Cooperative Program, celebrates International Women’s Day by reflecting on the achievements of women past and present. She says “women have always been the keystone for the development of society, dedicating themselves to caring for their families even when they have not been recognized for their responsibilities.” Mercedes best sums up Awamaki’s approach to empowering women with the Spanish acrostic poem that she wrote for this blog post. M-U-J-E-R in Spanish means “woman.”