The solutions to the socio-economic and health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are complex. But if we have learned anything so far, it is that such solutions have to include women as proactive agents, aiming to strengthen collective action in matters of citizenship, economic development and sustainability.
The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, pointed out in his message for the International Day of Rural Women that:
"The Covid-19 pandemic has affected more than half of the world's rural women, due to movement restrictions, the closure of stores and markets, and the interruption of their supply chains," adding that "it is unacceptable that rural women, who play such a vital role in growing our food and developing flourishing economies, are at risk during the pandemic. "
The future will be better if it is woven around gender equality and empowering women, boosting local capacities, digital connectivity and collaborative work for development.
Since June, together with a group of women trainers, we have coordinated efforts with rural community Las Mercedes, in Concepción, Chile, to develop an entrepreneurship training program aimed at rural women.
Our objectives are to revalue rural life and circular economy through the preparation of food based on traditional processes of collection, dehydration, fermentation and conservation inherited from their female ancestors; strengthen capacities to undertake with local identity; to encourage the use and integration of business tools and digital communication and to promote associativity, collaborative work and community participation.
The participants are 25 women from the rural sector of Las Mercedes, who face the same challenges that the rural world faces in Chile, related to marginalization in terms of geography, assets, resources, employability, markets, information, technology, capital and other factors. development that does not include land.
In the context of a pandemic, technology has been essential to make this project possible. All the classes have been online through the Facebook platform, which has represented a particular challenge for the participating women.
In my role as general coordinator, I had the opportunity to meet each of the beneficiary women, learn about their difficulties, expectations and life stories. This project was the result of creative and collaborative work in which the rural community was involved from its origin, from the general vision of the idea to be carried out, to the house-to-house distribution of the necessary materials for the development of the classes.
My conviction is that common good is not a concession that a few with power and knowledge decide to hand over to many, but rather a collective construction in which we are all equally relevant and deserve to be heard and respected. And although my vision has not always meet with many, I feel happy and satisfied with carrying out and appreciating the results of putting it into practice, even if for a few.
The medium and long-term vision is to generate a model in associative entrepreneurship wit local identity that has women as managers of creativity and of available resources of the community for a good sustainable living at an economic, food and environmental level. Empowering women to work out a friendly and powerful link with their own history, land and identity would increase the chance for a sustainable development with an alternative of employability that will benefit the entire community that gathers around an activity with its own sign that gives it the engine and motive to move forward as a group and to link with other organizations and people.