Artisan Groups Being Bold For Change
Last week during International Women’s Day I thought about all of the women that we met throughout our travels in Mexico and Guatemala. Here, Moacir and I met generations of incredibly skilled female artisans that were actively being Bold For Change.
A quote from the IWD website reads “through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over”. In each artisan village, we came across women and men that were doing exactly this within their own communities.
The Jolom Mayaetik Women’s Weaving Cooperative in San Cristobal de las Casas is a perfect example. Micaela from the cooperative, explained to us that in the 1980s when women came together to start Jolom Mayaetik, many of the members did not know what rights they had as indigenous Maya women. She said that within their indigenous dialects there were no words for Women’s Rights and so the women created these words. They also began to document their rights and spread this knowledge throughout their communities.
Justice, Resistance, Liberty & Rights. Murals painted by the members of Jolom Mayaetik at their cooperative. This mural represents their fight for equality.
The above mural represents Jolom Mayaetik's fight to end violence against indigenous women and also displays the many roles that the women have in their community.
Now Jolom Mayaetik is a place where Maya women come together to empower each other. Here women from 12 communities have a safe space. They learn about their rights as indigenous women, teach their children about their culture, language and history and learn about health and natural medicines. The women are taught to embrace their identity and not forget who they are.
Micaela also told us that many of the older women at Jolom did not receive an education due to traditional cultural beliefs, however they were taught to weave by their mother’s. In the cooperative, the women weave designs collectively so that they can create more, grow and share the profits within their communities. This is allowing the women to give the next generation an education and continues to preserve their cultural art.
Micaela (pictured left) translating our group discussion during our time in Yochib.
Micaela explained that the men in their lives are also incredibly supportive of the cooperative. This is because the men can see the positive influence it has in all aspects of life. This unified group of Maya women are actively preserving their culture, providing for their families, teaching their children the importance of education and being incredible role models.
Moacir and I are so happy to be supporting Jolom Mayaetik, in the small way that we can through Cielo Collective. The Weaving Women of Santo Tomas Jalieza, Mexico and the Single Mothers Cooperative of San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala are also being bold for change in their communities. I urge any of you travelling to these communities to visit them, they would love to personally share their stories with you.
Thank you for reading amigos,