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After the flood: women’s education is crucial to rebuilding in Peru

Beth Rochford, Communications Intern

Figure 1. Nicole at Condoray College where she studies hospitality management

A series of extreme floods in Peru since the start of the year have caused widespread damage to the country, leaving dozens dead and tens of thousands homeless. Landslides and flash floods have been caused by rain that is said to be the heaviest in almost a decade. In the wake of such devastation, Peru’s infrastructure has been greatly crippled. Rebuilding the affected areas will be a challenging task and education will be more important than ever in the process.

 

Despite Peru’s high levels of poverty and inequality, in recent times the World Bank has reported an increase in its per capita income and an overall decrease in the country’s rate of poverty. It links the changes in poverty and income rates to a growth in employment numbers. Sustainable jobs and a larger workforce, then, are a crucial way of breaking the poverty cycle. This is particularly important for women, a vital section of the population who are underutilised and undervalued in the workforce. According to an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) report on Peru, women spend twice as much time on unpaid household work as men, and girls have a considerably higher chance of dropping out of school early. Keeping girls in education and enabling them to secure decent employment is an essential way of increasing household income and reducing poverty – a paramount element of the rebuilding process in the wake of Peru’s flooding.

 

The important work done by the likes of Condoray College, a Wonder Foundation partner, is absolutely crucial as a means of tackling these educational inequalities and empowering young girls and women to enter the workforce. By providing scholarships to girls from low-income families, Condoray ensures that these girls develop the skills and certified qualifications they need to successfully find employment. With training programmes in accounting, cooking, hospitality, and IT work, Condoray offers young women the opportunity to gain valuable experience in relevant areas. By procuring employment, young women are empowered to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.

 

Contributing to the workforce and the household income is a crucial way of helping to rebuild a nation after natural disasters. For Nicole from Cañete, the powerful earthquake that shook Peru in 2007 made life particularly hard for her family. But with the encouragement of her mother, she found Condoray College and enrolled in its hospitality management programme. She has since used her training to generate an income that she can contribute her family’s finances. Nicole has used her earnings to help pay back bank loans that were taken out to complete the construction of her family home: ‘All of this has permitted me to see another environment and has made me reflect on the effort that I must put in to reach my goals and to be a source of strength to my family.’

 

Through the valuable skills Nicole has learned at Condoray College, she has secured employment, contributed to her family’s finances, and felt proud of her accomplishments. When she finishes her training, she says, she plans to open a business with her family. This empowerment of women through education is a vital way of enabling them to build the necessary and relevant skills needed to find sustainable employment, and in doing so, help to break the poverty cycle for both them and their families. In the aftermath of the devastation caused by the floods, rebuilding Peru will require continued efforts to empower women through education, enabling them to enter the workforce and contribute to the reconstruction of their community.