Features

Pro Mujer: picking apart poverty and the patriarchy

By: Cristina Diaz

 

To some, poverty is nothing but an impending threat, for others, it is all they have ever known.  People who are impoverished are often seen as that alone.  Pro Mujer, an NGO dedicated to providing women in Latin America with microfinance financial, health, and human development attempts to break the cycle of poverty in Latin America.

Women in Latin America have been oppressed for far too long.  This social crisis is what catalyzed founders Carmen Velasco and Lynne Patterson to create Pro Mujer in 1990.  For years, Pro Mujer has helped alleviate poverty in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina by providing financial help, health screenings, and business training for impoverished female entrepreneurs in Latin America.  It’s microfinance endeavors like these which have allowed several women to push through social barriers and defy expectations by running their businesses with support from other women.

Women who are empowered not only do more for themselves, but they also bring strength for their families, pushing new generations of young girls forward by setting a good example.  According to Camfed, a non-government, non-profit organization helping abolish poverty in Africa through the education of women,  “90% of a woman’s income is reinvested into her family, and when a woman is educated, she earns 25% more.”  Statistics make it clear: the more a woman is educated, the more she will invest in her family, and in turn, families that are well cared for produce more money, which contributes to the economy as a whole.  Initiatives like Pro Mujer and Camfed will all lead to the eventual decline of poverty, and the start of a new age, featuring women who are well educated and prepared to take on the world.

To provide their best work, women must first be healthy.  Pro Mujer provides solidarity and health support in addition to their business training.  These additional forms of aid allow women to feel at ease with themselves and their surroundings so work can become their priority.  According to their website, in 2016 alone, Pro Mujer provided 881,171 health services and 141,078 cancer screenings, potentially saving thousands of lives.  Along with this, they provided solidarity to all 262,063 of their clients by presenting them to a community of female entrepreneurs that gave them undying support.

“The Pro Mujer advisors have talked to us about many subjects, my favorites being values and self-esteem.  “I used to suffer from low self-esteem. When you depend on someone else, you have to do what the other person says.  Today, that’s no longer the case,” said Pro Mujer client, Maria Daysi Ramirez in an interview on the NGO’s website.

Pro Mujer is one of many companies paving the path to the future, and showing unsupported women that they can be much more than what society tells them.  Last year, the lives of 262,063 women were changed forever.  In only a couple of years, there could be millions of new female entrepreneurs out in the world.  It’s an exciting thought, which organizations like Pro Mujer are working to make a reality.  2017 is not the year for flying cars, or teleportation; it’s the year for equality.

 

 

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