In Ecuador, the rights of afro-descendant women are systematically violated: their participation in the labor force is reduced by discrimination, their access to property and land is restricted, and their access to basic social services is limited.
The situation of Afro-descendant women becomes more dramatic in rural areas, and this despite the fact that, due to the high levels of migration of men out of communities, women perform almost 100% of agricultural tasks. Only 25% of the women appear as owners. Only 14% appear as members of cooperatives and only 39% have access to social security.
This is the situation of many women who live in Maldonado, which is located in the province of Esmeraldas in Ecuador and where more than 90% of the rural population live in poverty. Here, many basic services are not accessible to families. And things that we see as basic, are considered a luxury for them. Wooden houses that remain erect with difficulty, impassable roads that make rivers the only means of movement by way of small boats, and small harvests, mean that every day they must fight to survive and avoid tragedy.
Women leading producers cooperatives
At CODESPA, we work to reduce inequality and end discrimination against afro-descendants and women. We are helping afro-descendant women, producers of cocoa in Maldonado, in the province of Esmeraldas – one of the poorest and most forgotten in the country. We train women to improve their harvests, strengthen their cooperative and business skills as well as technical knowledge, which contributes substantially to unleashing their potential, improving their self-esteem and strengthening their role in the community both inside and outside their cooperatives.
One of the problems faced by the women of this cocoa cooperative is the low productivity of their cultivation and access to a market to sell their products. For this reason, we work to help them implement more efficient cultivation techniques that increase productivity but remain respectful of the environment’s long-term health, which directly leads to better branding and an improvement in their income and a better life.
Every day more women are part of this cooperative. They feel part of the development of their community and they are improving the lives of their community through their work.
At CODESPA, we help make them owners of their future and we want them to continue increasing the opportunities available to themselves and their village community so that they can have full and happy lives.