by Yolanda Millán, Legal Representative
Mujeres Productoras is an organization of 104 rural women from the municipalities of Allende, Tierra Blanca, Comonfort and Dolores Hidalgo in the state of Guanajuato. The women engage in different productive activities: basket-making, preserves, embroidery, textiles, handcrafts, sewing of children’s and baby clothes, crocheted tablecloths, straw hats, woven handbags and embroidered coin purses, hand-crafted dolls, cushions, rebozo-shawls. In each of these activities, the women themselves are the directors and producers, making this work a source of training and income —in some cases, the only one— for the family.
The origin of Mujeres Productoras arose from the desperate need among rural women to contribute, and in many cases, take complete responsibility for the economic well-being of their families. For the past several decades, especially after the passage of NAFTA, there has been an exodus of men from the countryside, migrating north in search of work. The small farm economy has collapsed due to falling prices for local agricultural products and the advantages of scale that favor large agri-business enterprises. Thus many rural women are left alone in their homes, having to take on the role of both mother and father, while at the same time, taking care of their children, crops, and animals.
This situation has affected all women in the country. The members of Mujeres Productoras are young girls and women, women with different capabilities and older women. Upon entering the labor market, every day they confront a series of shortages that arise from the lack of capital for the purchase of raw materials, lack of specialization in their activities and as a consequence an irregular presence of their products in the market.
Mujeres Productoras has received grants and assistance from governmental and private agencies, but still has many needs. Although there is much to do, the most important step has been taken in the creation of this project. Along the way, each woman has had achievements, support from others and learning experiences, the most important being a belief in oneself by becoming more self-managing and enterprising. Women Producers is managing a store Ya Tsedi Behña located next to the the Center for Global Justice office at Calzada de la Luz #42 in the city of San Miguel de Allende. The purpose of this store is to reduce the presence of intermediaries, to get better prices and a permanent presence for the products made.
It is important to emphasize that this work has been and is recognized within the community and municipality, which gives the women more self-esteem and integral personal development – a good example for future generations of sons and daughters. It is also important to maintain different sources of income for the continuation of this project, to benefit the many families that believe in it and work in it. There are many women who are waiting to see what will be the future of this organization, and whom we have to motivate to join us in our dream, little by little making it a reality. For these reasons, we invite you to become a part of this project, and united, address the lack of materials and knowledge that exists in the rural communities of our state.