Advancing Women’s Business Skills in El Salvador - Mary's Pence

Women's Stories  |  ESPERA

Advancing Women’s Business Skills in El Salvador

Our ESPERA team prepared the curriculum and logistics to welcome the 19 representatives of our partner organizations in Suchitoto for the Economic Initiatives Workshop.

Women representing our ESPERA partner organizations attended this workshop from March 23 to 25. The women who came were the organizational leader and the ESPERA coordinator. Participants came from ACOMEST, CESPPO, Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto, ASMUR, Asociación de Mujeres de San Rafael Cedros, AMOS -former RUM-, and Grupo de Mujeres “La Parroquia.”

Born into a deeply patriarchal society, Salvadoran women and girls face risks in every sphere of life. Violence, misogyny, and little economic opportunity are some of their daily struggles. In 2020, the UN found almost four in ten Salvadoran girls and women aged 15 to 24 were neither working nor studying, more than double the rate for young men. In rural areas, only one out of five girls goes to school. This reality is why ESPERA training programs are so important in advancing women’s business skills in El Salvador.

The fact that the women took three days out of their busy lives shows how vital this work is to them. In addition, seeing the organizations reaffirm their commitment to the ESPERA Program was excellent.

An Opportunity to Share and Learn

“The primary objective of this training program was to equip these leaders with the necessary tools to provide better guidance and support to the economic initiatives that receive ESPERA funds,” explained ESPERA lead Mabel Martínez.

“Another goal was to provide more comprehensive content and clarify and document the roles of the ESPERA coordinators within the organizations. ESPERA coordinators are key in managing the lending pool and visiting local businesses within ESPERA, providing them coaching and accompaniment,” added Katherine Wojtan, Executive Director of Mary’s Pence.

Marylin of ACOMEST expressed that the Economic Initiatives Workshop was essential as it equipped them with tools that improved their understanding of business. This knowledge will enable them to provide better advice to women who approach them seeking support for their initiatives.

The attendees participated in all the activities and enjoyed spending time with each other and the opportunity to share their personal experiences. “I liked that I got to meet and share experiences with the compañeras from other organizations. In addition, the program allowed us to identify how different issues impact our businesses,” said Brenda from Concertación de Mujeres de Suchitoto.

The agenda for the three days covered topics like Top Ten Features for Successful Economic Initiative, Business Brainstorming, What it Takes to Create a Product or Service, Sell Successfully (in the photo), and The Family Business: Share Work, Decision-making, and Income.

More Work on Gender Justice Is Required

The team observed that, although women are generally aware of gender violence issues, the workshop revealed that they face difficulties in recognizing the impact of gender relations on their economic initiatives. For instance, they struggle with accessing and controlling economic resources due to gender discrimination. This insight emphasizes the importance of workshops that educate and empower women to identify and address these issues in their economic pursuits.

Women Supporting Women

The participants gained valuable insights and skills that will enable them to better support and advise women in their communities on their economic initiatives. Training and get-togethers like this foster a sense of community and collaboration among women, which is a crucial part of our ESPERA program. Through these interactions, they learn from one another’s successes and encourage one another. Mary’s Pence will continue accompanying women in their economic and personal development journeys.

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