International Women's Day 2019 - Women Empowering Women Through Art
Today is International Women's Day. At Cielo, we partner with women’s weaving and embroidery cooperatives throughout Mexico and Guatemala. Groups that were formed by women for women, so that they can have the same economic opportunities as their fathers, brothers, husbands and men in their communities. In places where women were not encouraged to receive an education these women are creating work for themselves, receiving a wage through years of learned artisan techniques, preserving their culture and now contributing to their families financial future.
Through their cooperative groups they now have the opportunity to receive an education, learn about their rights as indigenous Mexican and Guatemalan women, receive a sustainable income and simply grow. There is still a long way to go, however women in these groups are driving the change, empowering each other so that they are heard and respected in their communities.
This year's IWD theme is #balanceforbetter with a focus on building a gender balanced world. When speaking to leaders of the women cooperatives that we partner with, many shared the same experience where men in their communities were hesitant to support the groups at the start. What about the household chores? What about raising the children? What about the cooking? The societal pressures, expectations and gender stereotypes placed on women everywhere, particularly in these communities made the men in their lives fearful of change, simply because they couldn’t see past these outdated gender norms.
They didn’t realise what a positive change it would be. Through the co-ops these women now support their families financially, learn “on the job” skills in business, accounting and design, without ever having the opportunity to go school, they are understanding the importance of education for their daughters and understanding their value. Many of the men are now so supportive of the cooperatives as they can see how this has positively impacted their lives. Men are becoming more involved with household duties, are sharing financial responsibility and the gender stereotypes are slowly dissolving.
“When you empower a woman, you empower a whole family”. That is true, but you also empower communities, countries and generations to come. Our female artisan partners have empowered themselves through their craft and by doing so are working to create a gender balanced world. With time their families and home towns have seen the change and although there is a long way to go, it is a start.
To read more about our artisan partners, head to our Artisan Page. They all have incredible stories that need to be shared.