Natalie and Rosa
Earlier this month, a group of seven knitters from the knitting cooperative of Rumira joined Giulia and Natalie of our Monitoring and Evaluation team to talk about the role of women in their community, empowerment, and Awamaki’s mission.
For this empowerment workshop, we started right away with a big question: Why is it that Awamaki only works with women? At first, the answers we got were pretty straightforward. The women responded that there are very few jobs for women, and Awamaki provides them with jobs. While this is correct, we wanted to dig deeper: why do we only work with women?
Empowerment workshops like this one provide Awamaki with crucial insight to how our mission is perceived by the women artisans we serve. These workshops are also a great opportunity to evaluate our impact, and the women’s perception of our work, through their responses to questions and activities.
The idea of empowerment is a foreign concept in our cooperatives’ communities. The women of Rumira had heard of empowerment but none could confidently explain what it is. This was a critical part of the discussion because themes of empowerment are so central to Awamaki’s mission of enabling the women to create change in their communities.
To illustrate the theme of empowerment, we used women’s purchasing power and social change in the community as a starting point.
Knitter Rosa gave the example of a woman making purchasing decisions as a form of empowerment. “Women didn’t make these choices in the past,” she said when discussing changes in her community over the last decade. Now, she told us, women make the majority of household decisions and participate in community meetings. Along with the additional income that they earn with Awamaki, these changes are empowering them to improve their community.
This month’s workshop was also hugely beneficial to our organizational learning as we refine our capacity-building curriculum. We found our basic and interactive approach to this complex topic proved to be very successful. The women of our Rumira Cooperative gained understanding of empowerment in the context of their lives.
However, in the past we have only given this workshop in more rural communities that are further from town, schools and jobs. Rumira, on the other hand, is only minutes from the main town. We found that the Rumira women’s discussion was far more productive, and moved much more quickly, than the discussion had in previous rural communities. In those communities, we had started with a high expectation for women’s understanding of our mission, and found we needed to drill down to basics. Adapting that curriculum to Rumira, we approached the group with basic concepts, and quickly found that they were eager for a more advanced discussion!
This was a great lesson for us as we improve our curriculum so that we can better adapt it to each group’s education level and better carry out our mission of building business and leadership capacity in rural Andean women.
Small groups to begin the workshop
Prioritizing hypothetical spending money