Women: Excluded from the Narrative
In Peru, women represent as much as 80% of a family's labor force while also managing traditional household tasks and taking care of the children. They work in agriculture, tend livestock, and engage in income-generating activities.
Despite their hard work, women make up the majority of the population living in poverty, with as many as 30.4% not having access to personal income, a number that has increased since the pandemic began. The few women who do have access to personal income make 30% less per month than their male counterparts.
Changing the Narrative for Women
CHOICE Humanitarian focuses on projects that empower women to act as protagonists in their communities, which opens doors to equal treatment and opportunities. In 2020, CHOICE became acquainted with a group of women from the community of Pampa de Los Silva who were doing just this. Determined to create a new precedent, and despite a lack of initial support from their husbands, these women decided to form a women’s cooperative to raise ducklings.
Rather than individually raising their ducks, which would inevitably be slaughtered and sold when money was tight, the women pooled the ducklings and took turns caring for them. They each made sacrifices—time was spent feeding and caring for the ducks, which took time away from caring for their own homes. However, these women knew that the time spent working on long-term business goals would not only benefit their own families but their entire community.
Upon learning about the undertakings of these ambitious women, CHOICE supported their endeavors by providing materials and training to increase the capacity of the project. This included additional ducklings, feed, veterinary care, and vaccines.
The Narrative Now
The effects of the women’s cooperative rippled throughout the community. The group’s success inspired their husbands to support their business endeavors. When they needed to expand the duck pen, their husbands worked alongside them to construct a large new fence. As they grow, the group plans to continue reinvesting their profits back into the co-op. The project was essential to the community, as the pandemic caused other forms of income to be lost.
By the end of 2020, 75 families in Pampa de Los Silvas were directly benefited by this group, and the participating women were preparing to raise their fourth batch of ducks. CHOICE has since replicated this project in several other communities in Peru.
Learning from Neighbors
A group of women in Cerritos, Sechura, also benefited from a women’s cooperative focused on raising ducklings. This project grew into their lifeline as the pandemic quickly isolated their community from other forms of income and food. Since their community was put in quarantine, these mothers adapted the projects to operate in their homes. They were able to subsist on the sale of meat and eggs from their home-raised ducklings.
Upon reflecting on the project, America, a co-op participant, said, "We are going out and creating projects and learning about how to create something better for our families.” The ingenuity and hard work of these women are fostering hope and changing lives across the globe.