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Empowering women in Latin America

WONDER has been working in Latin America since 2013 to support vulnerable women and girls to find dignified employment, fulfil their potential and exit poverty for good.

Women from low economic backgrounds have multiple barriers to accessing educational and employment opportunities. In Latin America, one in four girls living in poverty will not attend school. The gendered division of labour means that women are often relied upon to stay at home to look after dependents, and women who do work are more likely to be in underpaid or unskilled employment when compared to men.

We partner with different organisations in various countries across Central and South America, to help provide vocational training and scholarships for education.

An overview of WONDER’s work in Latin America 

Guatemala

WONDER has partnered with the Junkabal Foundation, which has worked in the Basurero community in Guatemala City since 1963. Their projects respond to the needs of Guatemalan women and children who have few economic resources, and support them in their educational, professional and personal development.

Through our partnership with Junkabal, we support women and children in Guatemala City’s ‘Basurero’ (rubbish dump) district, which sits on the margins of the landfill site receiving a third of the country’s waste. Estimates show that around 40% of families in this community are single-parent, headed by women and that many children are out of school and work in order to support their families. For women and girls, continuing their education is often not an option. 

We support vocational training for women in multiple different fields, and education for school-aged girls. 

Honduras

Our partner Mairin is based in Zambrano, on the outskirts of the capital, Tegucigalpa. There are very few local employment opportunities and the level of education, particularly among women is low. Women carry most of the responsibility of raising their children, as it is common in the community for the men to have other families or to migrate. 

We have worked with Mairin to develop their plans and provision for these women, including providing funding for education, income generation and leadership programmes.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, we are working with Pirineos Cultural Centre to help renovate and restore their education centre, in order for it to become a space where women and girls can receive mentoring, leadership skills, and workshops so they can thrive. 

Community support is very important in Venezuela, which has seen over 5 million people flee the country since 2014 due to high levels of unemployment, violence and hunger. The number of out-of-school children has steadily increased due to this crisis. Covid-19 further worsened the crisis in Venezuela, by negatively effecting access to education, work and basic necessities. 

El Salvador 

We have recently partnered with the Sirama Foundation in El Salvador, which supports women from low-income families trapped in cycles of violence and poverty. Sirama provides high-quality technical education, human development and employability skills, with the goal of enabling women to be able to generate income to support themselves and their families. Through the provision of scholarships, WONDER can help more women gain vocational training and become economically independent. 

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America. Women have to balance their role as the head of their households with often underpaid jobs.

Brazil 

We have worked in Brazil for the last three years with ADEC, to empower girls through youth work as part of our Red GLOW. The aim is to increase their self-esteem, reduce stress, and develop new skills.

Although women in Brazil are more likely to attend post-secondary education than men, they are less likely to be employed. Education outcomes tend to vary significantly depending on students’ socio-economic background. 

Peru 

We have worked with our partner Instituto Condoray in Peru since 2016, to support vocational training for women. 

Although literacy rates are almost equal between men and women, access to education and the division of labour continues to disadvantage women. Amongst families living in poverty, the tendency to prioritise the post-secondary education of boys remains dominant, while the bulk of the domestic chores continues to fall on women and girls.

Author: Tashnia Anam