The Circle of Women

The Circle of Women is a non-profit organization which supports the self-sufficiency of indigenous Mixteca women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Through their connection to other women, women gain confidence and opportunities to participate more fully in the decision-making process in their families and communities.

The Circle of Women
32 Breakwater Cove
% Judith L Radtke
Chelsea, MA 02150
United States
617-889-8177
http://thecircleofwomen.org

Founder

Judith Lockhart-Radtke

Management Team

Lynne Rowe, Agnes Portalewska

Board of Directors

Howard Kilguss, Warren Radtke, Anuradha Desai

Project Leaders

Judith Lockhart Radtke

Mission

The Circle of Women is a non-profit organization which supports the self-sufficiency of indigenous Mixteca women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Through their connection to other women, women gain confidence and opportunities to participate more fully in the decision-making process in their families and communities.

Programs

The Circle of Women has three core projects which involved the participants in the planning process: Microenterprise project with weavers: In 2003, the Circle of Women loaned the women of the Mixteca $5000 for a rotating fund. With the fund they bought weavings from the weavers, and the money was returned to the fund when the weavings were sold. This plus workshops in marketing, finance, weaving, organization, shipping, organic colors, raw products has produced a thriving business, Ita sa'a na'a-A Flower Made by a Woman, in the village of Miramar in the Mixteca. By January of 2007 the women had fully paid off the loan and were financially independent. In 2009, they were recognized for their skills at the Museo de Textil in Oaxaca through an exhibit about them and their craft. This curated exhibit has brought the women international attention and the women continue to learn about fair trade, national and international trade and are perfecting their marketing skills. Literacy program: In the high Mixteca area 7 out of 10 adult women are illiterate. Illiteracy and gender inequality are the primary causes of economic and educational disadvantage. The Circle of Women started a literacy program when we saw the weavers could not develop their business without learning to read and write. "Reading with all the Senses" is dramatic new bilingual literacy program based on drawing and oral expression developed by the Director of Projects of the Circle of Women. The initial group of thirty-six older (some in their 70s) Mixtec women-participants in Miramar became, in two years, twenty-seven fully bilingual women. Participation in the program showed an increase in confidence and willingness to speak in front groups and take part in activities. The project has also produced a manual of the program which will now be used with young girls and women in neighboring villages. The graduates in Miramar have formed a book club which meets on a regular basis to keep up their skills. Health education project: Lacking access to dependable medical care, many Mixteca women suffer from avoidable health issues. To identify needs and build a supportive network, we work with physicians, community representatives, schools, and other community groups to discuss how to integrate traditional practices with modern health care. We have assisted with vision screenings and obtaining eye glasses for the women, encouraged PAP smears and cancer screenings, as well designed an educational health program based on the needs of the women of Miramar. They expressed their need to know more about their bodies and their diseases in order to better care for themselves, to prevent future illness, and wanted to learn how to negotiate with the local health system. Topics covered have included: nutrition, chronic degenerative diseases, diabetes, dental health, reproductive health and domestic abuse. The project was evaluated measuring the women's increase in health knowledge. The project is also training six community health promoters.

Statistics on The Circle of Women

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2009: $45,000
  • Annual Budget for 2008: $43,000
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $45,000