Universidad Centro Americana (UCA) -group members
|Claudia Schmolz||Andrea Mcleod||Carlos Escalante|
Gender roles traditionally, justify and naturalize a set of beliefs that differentiate and define the behavior of men and women, reducing their range of motion. From birth initiates social constructions that enhances characteristics and skills in individuals by their sex, and inhibit other. So there is a differential treatment reflected by those around them in how they relate to them, allowing gender discrimination (National Institute for Women [INMUJERES], 2007).
Gender stereotyping, especially in rural areas, leading women to hold a traditional role, becoming its main duty being mother, wife and homemaker (Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO], 2009). This element is one of the reasons that inhibits the pursuit of a career for women; not only limiting their potential for personal growth, but also hurting the family income and economic and social growth of communities (FAO, 2009). The low participation of women in the workplace is a current reality in El Salvador, which is cause and effect of existing gender inequality. It is established that men represent 86% of the workforce in rural areas of El Salvador, while women represent only 14% (Department of Statistics and Census [DIGESTYC], 2010)
Domestic work is an element often used to inhibit the participation of women in community groups or organizations (Zapata, 1999; cited in Delgado, D., Zapata, E., Martinez, B. & Alberti, 2010). It seems vital that women enter the formal-paid labor area, as this, while providing economic benefits, provides new opportunities for action, social interaction, leisure and personal development; also enriches the identity and sense of purpose. Several investigations conclude that female employment helps women increase their levels of personal independence, economic independence and possibilities for personal fulfillment. (Humanas, 2007; Diaz Godoy & Stecher, 2005; Godoy, Stecher & Diaz, 2007; Women Initiative Group, 1999; Guzman, Mauro & Araujo, 1999; Rivera & Guajardo, 1996; National Women’s Service [SERNAM] 2001; Shearim & Silva, 1998; cited in Godoy and Mladinic, 2009).
This situation is no exception in Tasajera Island. The community diagnosis prepared by Escalante, Ochoa, Rodriguez Sanchez, Villalta and Zayas (2014) conducted in the community with the support of the EMANA Initiative, describes the following concerning the status of women:
The female population is the most perceived as vulnerable to the issues that concern the community. The level of economic uncertainty, also limited access to health information-education, along with the reproduction of traditional gender roles put this population at a disadvantage and marginalization. Participation in productive economic sphere is reduced, have less access to resources, open spaces, recreation and leisure time. Woman is the population with lower participation in leadership positions or as members of organized community groups (Escalante et al., 2014).
Three issues that revolve around the central problem are identified: The few spaces for recreation, social relationships and difficult access to education. These three elements undoubtedly affect the central issue, which is: the low participation of women in community development. Women population between 15 and 25 years old has limited access to integrated development areas, which prevents part of organizational processes. Limiting women’s scope of action, mobilization and support networks; this situation could lead them to be vulnerable to physical, emotional or psychological violence (Escalante et al., 2014).
The “Artisans of the Sea” project began in mid-June 2014, this was a process of responding to the situation of economic and social vulnerability that women face, since they do not have job opportunities or recreation beyond the family. The project assumes that through collective action aimed at developing skills to create a micro-business crafts, women begin their process of personal empowerment, while having the opportunity to create meaningful relationships with other group members. This project involved the formation of a group of 23 young local community, including aged between 15 and 25 years, which would be integrated to create one of the community first women’s exclusive organizations.