Social Business Network is thrilled to have the support of the UK Nicaraguan Embassy, who recently awarded us a grant to deepen the impact of the Recognition of the Unpaid Work of Women in agricultural cooperatives. The grant will be used to pilot the next phase of development in the women’s empowerment initiative with the Juan Francisco Paz Silva Cooperative, focussing on cultural and entrepreneurial education for women. The initiative began three years ago and the ongoing funding, generated entirely through incorporating the unpaid work contribution of rural women into the costs of the cooperatively produced sesame oil and coffee, has largely been invested in savings incentives and technical assistance so that rural women have access and support to participate more fully in the local economy. The support of the UK Embassy provides the cooperative with the means to push the initiative forward in its development, providing a core educational course in cooperativism, entrepreneurship and gender equality; additional skills-based workshops; marketing support; and the creation of a mural in the center of town recognizing the unpaid contribution that women make to community and family well-being. This initiative has already become a model for other agricultural cooperatives, who adapt the principles to their own communities and contexts. We are excited to see this initiative move forward and know that many other communities will also benefit from seeing the results of the additional support of the UK Embassy. You can follow the Juan Francisco Paz Silva Cooperative’s achievements and other great initiatives in Nicaragua on the UK Embassy in Nicaragua’s facebook page. Adelante!
Last week the World Economic Forum published the 2013 Gender Gap report. The report began in 2006 and since then has attempted to annual review the accessibility of each nation’s resources to men and women. The report focusses on 4 areas of equality – health and survival, educational attainment, political empowerment and economic participation and opportunities. The scores are then averaged to create an overall ranking of countries.
In Latin America, a relatively small region of the world with closely neighboring countries, there is a large discrepancy in the WEF report’s finding. While Nicaragua just slips in to the highest ranking countries in the world at overall 10th place, Guatemala ranks 114th – the lowest in the entire Western Hemisphere after Suriname in 110th. Nicaragua’s 10th place ranking has made national news and earned it a place on many summary reports such as this one from the BBC on par with the European countries at the very top of the list – like Iceland, Norway, and Ireland. But a glance at the breakdown by area shows that Nicaragua’s scores are disparate: While a law passed two years ago requiring all political parties to support 50% women candidates in local and national elections is most likely responsible for the 5th place rank in political empowerment, the country lags behind in other areas, most notably in Economic Participation and Opportunities where it ranks 91st. In these productive yet still resource-tight countries, there’s no question that closing the gender gap every year overall marks important advancements in the quality of life for its citizens. But there’s still a lot of work to be done, which is why this report supports the relevancy of Social Business’s work with economic empowerment like the Recognition of the Unpaid Work of Women. In fact, across Latin America the rankings for equality of Economic Participation and Opportunities fall in the 90th and 110th percentile, yet another reason to support equitable trade and trading organizations like cooperatives that uphold gender equality as central principles in their work.
The Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign has partnered with Ético and Nicaraguan cooperatives SOPPEXCCA and CECOCAFEN to offer a fair trade women’s grown coffee in Wales, Tecafé. While the name may be confusing for those who speak Spanish – Teacoffee? – they explain that Tecaf is the Welsh word for fair, and so the name really embodies the partnership created between Nicaragua and Wales through the purchase and sales of this coffee. Read more about the good work of the Wales Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and watch a short video about their new coffee brand on their blog.
The Bolivarian Trade Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) recently decided to launch the SUCRE in Nicaragua within the next two months. The SUCRE is a virtual currency named after Antonio José de Sucre, a Venezuelan independence leader who was a compatriot of Simón Bolivar. The participating countries, which include Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica, created the SUCRE with the hope of stabilising regional economies and further distinguishing ALBA trade agreements from the dollar-based FTAA that it was created as an alternative to. In Nicaragua, the currency will be used for bookkeeping and to allow the country to keep fewer dollars in reserve to back up international trade. It was first used in isolated trade agreements between Ecuador and Venezuela in 2010. The launching of the SUCRE in Nicaragua is similar to that of the European union adopting the Euro, although there is not yet a hard currency. The SUCRE marks another initiative for the autonomy and fuller empowerment of traditional producer nations.