FW: Peruvian Popular Kitchens MDG Story & South American Peer Exchange on Land and Housing in Bolivia
October 1, 2010
In this issue of Huairou Update, we share a story of how popular kitchens in Peru are deepening their work for women's political empowerment through the Huairou Commission's MDG3 Initiative.
Also, leaders from Peru and other South American countries travel to Bolivia this week to learn about a women's cooperative housing model and to plan regional action around land and housing policy issues.
In This Issue
From Ladles to Leadership: CONAMOVIDI's Story of Success in the MDG3 Initiative
Peru's community kitchens, or comedores populares, have provided food and a social space to the urban poor since the 1960s, as streams of rural migrants left their homes in search of work, often settling in squatter communities with few basic services. In an effort to build food security in their communities, women formed cooking collectives, bought produce in bulk and created large kitchens that became not only hubs for distributing food to low-income families, but spaces for neighborhood organizing on a range of community development issues.
This story looks at how CONAMOVIDI, a national movement of women's popular kitchens, empowered women at a popular kitchen in a small town recovering from the 2007 earthquake to negotiate with local authorities on the implementation of Peru's Law of Equal Opportunities.
The national network of CONAMOVIDI organizes coordinators from more than 10.000popular kitchens across Peru, which have long moved beyond a single focus on food distribution, to facilitating projects that empower women to take on citizen leadership roles.
CONAMOVIDI is connected to numerous other women's networks in the country. Among them is GROOTS Peru, an umbrella organization formed in order to have a stronger presence in international forums with GROOTS International, and which participated in Huairou's MDG 3 Initiative in 2008. "CONAMOVIDI has been working to increase grassroots women's awareness that they are not only housewives or mothers, but bearers of rights - women and citizens," explains Relinda Sosa, a representative of CONAMOVIDI who recently spoke as part of a UN-Habitat-sponsored panel during the Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York.
Sosa joined a popular kitchen in Lima in the 1980s to provide for her family and now works on behalf of thousands of women as a coordinator of CONAMOVIDI's national campaigns. In one such campaign, a pilot-project introduced in the popular kitchen in the small town of Cañete, 15 local women were involved in negotiations with local authorities around the implementation of Peru's Law of Equal Opportunities. Through a series of workshops supported by Huairou's MDG 3 Initiative, women were trained to become "rights advocates" (promotoras de derechos) in areas like health and education, increasing women's roles in service delivery in Cañete.
But the transformative effect of the workshops went beyond increasing women's involvement in local government - it also changed their perception of their roles in the house. "One of the senior leaders at the kitchen was very active in her community," recalls Sosa of one of the participants. "She was used to engaging in discussions around participatory budgeting and economic initiatives, but she realized she had never questioned her position at home. She was only able to be a community leader after finishing her housework and cooking for her husband." From the workshops, the women took away an understanding that women's rights extends to her sharing household tasks with men in order to fully reach her own potential. "Today the same woman is a community housing advocate."
The Cañete example is but one of many in a series of initiatives across Latin America, Africa and Asia that illustrate how empowering women at the community level is the first step to increasing women's participation in local and national decision-making processes. Peer learning and collective problem solving form the basis for women's confidence to become actors in their communities and beyond. For this reason, the Huairou Commission, with support from the Dutch Foreign Ministry's MDG3 Fund, has prioritized investing in the capacities of local women's organizations to expand existing knowledge and connect women to government processes.
Relinda Sosa herself is an example of the potential of locally-active women to become national and international change agents in matters affecting grassroots women the world over. She and other members of CONAMOVIDI will join women's organizations from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil in Cochabamba, Bolivia, this week for the international conference titled Exchange on Land and Housing Tenure and Finance for Women in Latin America, from October 8th to 11th.
The Huairou Commission encourages international leaders serious about improving the fragile position of women world wide, to look at the successes booked through women-led exchanges like these, and actively support existing women's organizations and initiatives in the years to come.
For more information on the MDG 3 Initiative, please contact program coordinator Sarah Silliman at Sarah.Silliman@....
Peer Exchange on Land and Housing Tenure and Finance for Women in South America
8 - 11 October 2010
The Huairou Commission is coordinating a peer exchange with two Bolivian organizations, "Communidad Maria Auxilladora de la Red Nacional De Mujeres Lideres Barriales" (Maria Auxiliadora Community of the National Network of Neighborhood Women Leaders and Red Habitat / FUNDAPROVI), from October 8 - 11, 2010. In the four day peer exchange, 30 grassroots women leaders and NGO leaders from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia will exchange practices on gaining ownership ofland and housing.
Key goals of the programme include learning from the cooperative housing success of Comunidad Maria Auxiliadora in Cochabamba, mapping land and housing policy issues across South America and creating lasting bonds between participating organizations. The peer exchange will promote the sharing of best practices and increase the visibility of the work that their organizations carry out.
Some of the exercises that the Huariou Commission has developed and planned for this session include: the creation of a joint vision and regional level action agenda, reflecting on the existing capabilities of women's base organizations for political activism, develop an action frame based on land, resilience and regional governance and define strategies to involve the local or national government in construction of the communities.
The Huairou Commission has been supporting members to network and build as a movement across Latin America for a few years, and this peer exchange seeks to further build grassroots South American leadership and action planning within the Huairou Commissioin Land and Housing Campaign.
For more information on the Cochabama Programme, please contact Katia Araujo: katia.araujo@...
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