Marginalized Bolivian Women Creating Change
By Calixta Choque Churata and Zsófia Sztranyiczki
IWC’s project in District 7 of Viacha (near La Paz, the Bolivian capital) – supporting marginalized Bolivian women in becoming a powerful force for change in their families and communities by building income-generating and leadership skills as well as developing capacities for long-term success – resumed in October 2021, following a hiatus of 18 months brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Resource persons on leadership and entrepreneurship included Elvira Espejo Ayca, former director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in La Paz, and politician Alejandra Camargo Tanabe, from the Chamber of Deputies of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly of Bolivia. Ms. Camargo talked about what it means to be an artisan and how to start a business as an artisan, emphasizing the importance of branding/customizing one’s own products while creating green products and avoiding the use of plastics. She offered help including legal advice and encouraged the women not to be afraid to put what they have learned during the practical courses to good use, which could lead to greater economic autonomy and financial independence.
Psychologist/therapist Patricia Miranda talked about the values of being a woman and offered insights and tools to help develop an awareness of oneself, build self-esteem, and actively build and maintain a healthy sense of self-worth to achieve fulfillment and happiness.
The program concluded on December 20 with the presentation of certificates of completion to the 49 graduates and an exhibition of the results of the training. Exhibits included “pollera” (traditional long pleated) skirts, panettone, and other pastries, breads, and a fashion show displaying various men’s and women’s hairstyles.