Suburban agriculture and cooperative building in municipalities of provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas and Holguin

Suburban agriculture and cooperative building in municipalities of provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas and Holguin

Women working together in suburban Cuba

This has changed our lives positively. We have gained more independence and are motivated. Today we value who we are and what we can achieve if we come together.

Mailén Basallo Leon, Agricultural Production Cooperative member and project beneficiary

CONTEXT

Cuba's history of implementing comprehensive social protection programmes has largely resulted in the eradication of hunger and poverty. It is one of the most successful countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and was ranked 44th of the 187 countries in the 2014 UNDP Human Development Index.

OBJECTIVES

  • Develop small entrepreneurial initiatives that can aid the empowerment of rural women.
  • Support both women and men with training on technical topics, gender equality and women's leadership.
  • Support mutual learning between rural and urban women.

RESULTS

  • The project aims to contribute to food security based on principles of economic, technological, environmental, organizational and gender equity.
  • It works to strengthen cooperatives in 10 municipalities in the provinces of Camaguey, Las Tunas and Holguin.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • The project aims to support the development of 89 cooperatives with around 10 500 beneficiaries, 15% of which are women
  • The project aims to reach 1 268 399 beneficiaries with improved access to healthy food and lower prices
  • The project has a component to support women's initiatives which benefit to 56 women, involving 16 economic initiatives in 10 cooperatives
  • The budget to implement women's initiatives has been approx. €200 000

TESTIMONY

Working together for equality and security

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."