Debate Magazine

COMUCAP: Empowering Rural Women

Posted on the 22 April 2013 by Humanwriter @roseforman
Gender inequality is a big problem in Honduras; the conservative, Catholic social structure introduced by Spanish colonialism has created a misogynistic society so women are seen as lower than men, even the work they do is considered to be inferior. Yet in reality women perform a large portion of the work and provide for the family. According to a recent study from the International Labour Organisation, “Decent work for women is also a precondition for economic development since, in the long run, economics cannot afford to ignore an untapped resource such as that which could be offered by female labor.”

Progressio is helping by teaming with local organisations in Honduras such as COMUCAP, who they've been working with for three years. COMUCAP stands for Cooperativade Mujers Campesinas de La Paz (Cooperative of rural women of La Paz) and it is made up of 259 women, divided into 16 divisions across the La Paz region, bringing together women of the indigenous Lenca community. They provide technology and land for the women of the community to work on collectively. COMUCAP’s social objective is to promote equality of leadership and economic opportunities working towards self-sustainability and the protection of the environment. The women have been taught how to use all their resources, including making their own organic fertilisers, which in turn helps them to grow better quality produce and is better for their health. COMUCAP has collective farms but is planning for women to buy their own plots from the organisation, which will ensure that they will get more money in the long run. If the women farm their own land then they will have more of a sense of ownership, have more pride in their work and be able to provide better for their families. Furthermore, the income the women are earning as a result of their new skills is changing their lives and those of their families. For example, all the children of COMUCAP women now go to school, which is rare in a rural Honduran community.COMUCAP women produce a wide variety of products, such as coffee and aloe vera. 95% of COMUCAP income is from coffee, which is FLO-Certified. This means that the women get a regular price which helps if the market price is low. In the last five years prices have plummeted so the women have been receiving less money for their produce. The products are sold worldwide; Aloe Vera is currently sold to Switzerland, Italy and the US, whilst the coffee is sold in Germany and also the US.As we are volunteering with Progressio, we are helping COMUCAP farmer Alba to harvest her carrot crop which, without our help, would take her weeks instead of days as we are providing resources she wouldn't normally have access to. This means that she will have more time to spend with her young family and have the on-going support from COMUCAP.

Written jointly with Alice Pepper for Progressio

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