Mailén Basallo Leon is a member of the Agricultural Production Cooperative 'Juanito Garcell'. At 24, this young entrepreneur is a leader within the cooperative, and an active member of the EU's food security project which seeks to innovate and give more autonomy to agricultural services in order to strengthen the provision of food. In response to a call launched under the project, Mailén and other women developed three proposals for economic initiatives in their local town: a laundry, a beauty parlour and a goat dairy.
They participated in training workshops on technical and gender equality issues, and exchanged experiences with other rural and urban women. "I was encouraged when I saw that many could change their lives" says Mailén "and take initiatives to overcome sexist stereotypes that are prevalent in society, and where I live" However, Mailén has faced difficulties along the way; in particular finding other women to join her, and overcoming a lack of support from the men in the cooperative. "There are still those who do not believe in our abilities to perform the tasks that really interest us and encourage us." she says.
Mailén is part of the economic department of the cooperative and a member of its Board of Directors. As such, she is responsible for daily decisions on financial matters and resource planning, and is keen to achieve more equitable labour and family relations. She expresses pride and satisfaction of what she has achieved, with her entrepreneurial vision a motivating example for many other women. "This has changed our lives positively. We have gained more independence and we take a step forward so that we are motivated. Today we especially value who we are and what we can achieve if we come together."