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, where women perform almost all of the agricultural tasks while many men travel to cities to find work. However, only 25% of 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 upright houses and passable roads are a luxury. Many times, rivers are the only means of movement by way of small boats, and every day is a battle to secure food.
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 an improvement in their income and health.
Every day more women are part of this cooperative. They improve their quality of life through work, and at the same time, further the economic and social development of their communities. 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 communities.