In Argentina and in much of the rest of the world, men and women have unequal employment opportunities. There is a marked difference in labour market participation determined by gender: 65% of men work, while only 41% of women do. Beyond this, those who do work are paid on average 32% less than men and in climates of socio-economic instability, this is only exacerbated. In such a social climate, the Mediapila foundation was created. Mediapila is a non-profit organization that, for 11 years has been dedicated to helping women from the most precarious socio-economic situations access the world of work. These women come from backgrounds marked by inequality, violence and a lack of opportuni... read more In Argentina and in much of the rest of the world, men and women have unequal employment opportunities. There is a marked difference in labour market participation determined by gender: 65% of men work, while only 41% of women do. Beyond this, those who do work are paid on average 32% less than men and in climates of socio-economic instability, this is only exacerbated. In such a social climate, the Mediapila foundation was created. Mediapila is a non-profit organization that, for 11 years has been dedicated to helping women from the most precarious socio-economic situations access the world of work. These women come from backgrounds marked by inequality, violence and a lack of opportunities. We seek to develop a model of labour market inclusion that focuses specifically on training women from situations of socio-economic insecurity in textile skills. We provide personalised learning and promote the development of technical skills and learning about work culture and attitudes towards work. It is first and foremost a women's foundation and a space for learning, support and guidance for women who are most in need. The vast majority of women who come to the foundation are migrants meaning their social networks in the city are very limited and many suffer discrimination and violence in their daily lives. At home, the model of a gendered division of labour is deeply entrenched and women are prevented from accessing full time formal jobs. They are subject to a great deal of job insecurity due to the responsibilities they are burned with. The foundation has developed a model that focuses specifically on training in textile skills while at the same time offering mentoring in personal growth, helping strengthen students' confidence and increase their self-esteem. Currently, 80 women from some of the poorest parts of the city come to the foundation, women who on a day to day basis find themselves burdened with the running of their homes and who desperately seek to earn a living and improve their lives through work. We seek to reduce the level of unemployment amongst women from situations of socioeconomic instability and create a society where women and men have equal opportunities for decent work. To achieve the successful integration of women in a dignified working environment, the following programmes are on offer: Training courses in textiles that are free of charge, in both industrial and domestic sewing. The course for training in industrial sewing lasts two years and is taught in the training centre in Villa Crespo. It offers theoretical and practical knowledge of sewing, with teaching of how to operate leading industrial sewing machines. Teaching in domestic sewing is run in four month courses in conjunction with the Secretariat of Urban Integration in the Cristo Obrero zone, in Barrio 31 in Retiro. It covers the different tools needed for using domestic sewing machines, for making textile garments and for doing clothing alterations. In order to offer a comprehensive training programme, two facilitators are present in the classes: a sewing teacher and a social psychologist. A separate, specialised teacher is involved in teaching entrepreneurship skills. We also have started running a 'textile lab' which is a 6 month training course. with the aim of generating opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Villa 1.11.14, the I.N.T.A. neighbourhood of Lugano and Villa Soldati. It offers training in mixed techniques of hand sewing and the use of domestic sewing machines. Alongside this, it includes teaching of basic notions of printing, embroidery and fabric cutting and through the programme we are able to support over 45 women in vulnerable situations. Our aim is that through this course, participants will learn the means through which they can go on to create their own products, generating both employment opportunities for them and facilitating their personal development. A support program that offers mentoring to students for their personal development and empowerment. The Support Program is based on the understanding that the problem of access to decent work faced by women in vulnerable situations cannot be solved by providing vocational training alone. We realise the necessity of working simultaneously and comprehensively on the personal development and empowerment of our students. This program interprets the notion of empowerment as the process by which a person assumes authority and autonomy through the recognition of personal power. Through helping women who participate in these spaces achieve their own personal development, our intention is to generate an environment of freedom, equality and companionship where women are able to discover in the group and the organization a space to learn without limitations, without prejudices or stereotypes and where they are able to reach their full potential. It includes a cycle of workshops and different activities where common problems are addressed and all the whole encourages free speech, respect, introspection and creativity. The women who come to Mediapila Foundation are people with very limited economic resources, who live in very violent and disadvantaged environments. The vast majority are migrant women, therefore their social networks in the city are very scarce and many suffer discrimination in their daily lives. Moreover, at home, the division of labour by sex is deeply entrenched, so they are in charge of all the domestic tasks of cleaning and caring for the different members of the family (children, spouses, elders). These imposed responsibilities prevent them from accessing full time formal jobs and, as a consequence, they are committed to working mainly in cleaning family houses, making them subject to a great deal of job insecurity. As such, the Support Program becomes essential for their emotional and social development. It is the only time and space during which they think about themselves, construct relationships and, as many participants have said themselves, it is often the sole moment in the week when they feel entirely free and content. A labour market inclusion program, generating employment opportunities for women entrepreneurs. This is a training program in management and administration of businesses for students who want to run their own business. Through the workshop format and interactive techniques, participants learn to develop their own business plan covering fundamental concepts of production, marketing and communication. As with all the activities Mediapila proposes, a large part of this workshop is devoted to strengthening the confidence of the students, exploring their creativity and enhancing their skills. A general support program for women who come to the foundation with problems they have in their personal lives related to housing, health, nutrition, their children's education, amongst others. We provide help with receiving psychological assistance, procedures for food grants for children, guides for making claims and complaints, support with low-income tax payment schemes. This program is carried out by different volunteers who dedicate their time to making inquiries and creating connections with other organizations and different women's aid centers. We work in Villa Crespo (headquarters), Barrio 31: Cristo Obrero zone, Soldati, Lugano, Villa 1-11-14. The values we uphold are the following: Social promise that all the activities of the foundation are carried out with professionalism, dedication and willingness, with the knowledge that everything helps us to achieve our social mission. Respect for the cultural diversity and all the different knowledge and skills of those who work and com to learn at the foundation. Perseverance because we know that significant changes require persistence and trust. Joy because it is an essential ingredient for teaching and learning, and because it makes Mediapila a meeting place and shelter for women who come looking for change. Solidarity because we work together with a common goal. Empathy so that we can understand the problems of every single person.
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