Bordamos Juntos: Social Enterprising & Crafts
PSYDEH leans into how COVID-19 badly harms local economies by producing a social enterprise around handicrafts in 2021-2022. We do so with our Bordamos Juntos (Embroider Together) initiative because Mexican culture has a rich history of artisan trades embedded within Indigenous traditions. Not to mention, it honors key elements of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This sustenance of culture cultivates familial bonds, forges sustainable economic independence and gender equity, and helps to maintain social cohesion within communities.
Why Bordamos Juntos?
In the rural, mountainous Otomí-Tepehua region (Region) of Hidalgo, Mexico there is limited economic opportunity for Indigenous communities, especially women. There is also an extremely limited local marketplace for the high-quality traditional handmade embroidered and woven goods produced across the region. Artisan crafts are often under-sold and devalued by third-party buyers that bring these goods to urban markets. The drive behind our latest social enterprise project Bordamos Juntos seeks to disrupt this narrative by fostering a ground-up, women-led social enterprise project that offers immediate and long-term results in the region.
With phase one work starting in the fourth-quarter 2020 and launching on International Women’s Day, March 8th, Bordamos Juntos, built on 2020 success, will spotlight nearly forty Indigenous women artisans from Hidalgo and their relationship to craft, whilst connecting them directly to an online market in order to more effectively sell their work and receive fair pay.
Net funds raised will then help to cover phase two costs of supporting the growth of up-to-four regional women-led collectives that promote individual and collective agency, foster leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and activate more equal participation for women in their communities. Funding permitting, specific activities include, but are not limited to:
– artisan leader training on leveraging the cooperative advantage for women’s empowerment and gender equality, as well as better practices, e.g. quality control and smart pricing,
– field research on artisan techniques memorialized in polished marketing material for collective efforts,
– field photography work on artisan goods available for sale memorialized in an electronic catalog living on the collective(s) own website with professional logo(s) hosted for one year,
– promotional film/video and other sales materials artisans can use to sell their work and collectives, and
– legal and regulatory training and support, including securing the necessary permits to operate under Mexican law, including pursuing the legal status to license 3rd party companies to use their designs for win-win collaborations
As Damon Taylor, PSYDEH Senior Advisor, states, “[P]articipating in Bordamos Juntos puts a fair wage directly in women artisans’ pockets, helping them to support their families and local economies and build a wider sense of purpose as equal citizens.” Bordamos Juntos also connects women artisans to their cultural heritage – explored further by our UK in-house content writer Charlotte Coleman in her forthcoming article published for the USA/UK markets around March 8 international women’s day.
PSYDEH empowers Indigenous women by strengthening their skills for developing meaningful solutions in their own communities and then supports them in this work.
Chief among the obstacles to sustainable community-led development in rural areas in countries like Mexico are inadequate education, gender discrimination, and social and economic inequality. The main ‘identity’ group that is impacted by these obstacles are women, often marginalized Indigenous women. Though women are the heart of families, communities, and cultural traditions, they are often left out of decision-making discourse, political processes, and economic ventures, and confront violence and discrimination within their homes and schools. Matters have only worsened during the pandemic.
Working across four Indigenous municipalities in the Region, PSYDEH’s needed efforts contribute to sustainable change at the most localized level. Organizing and supporting collectives of Indigenous women across these municipalities via unprecedented regional public forums and the women’s own development agenda, we use popular education-oriented workshops on topics such as human rights and free and fair electoral processes to strengthen women’s knowledge and tools needed to lead their own communities. We also help them to produce and benefit from community development projects. This encourages women to move towards realizing their full potential, where they have the earned confidence we all need to face challenges as community leaders.
Why Economic Empowerment, now?
Financial security creates freedom and opportunity. Through social enterprise projects like Bordamos Juntos, PSYDEH aims to do what local partners ask us to do, to invest directly in communities by engaging women as the drivers of their own economic and social well-being. Don’t just take our word for it. An Otomi woman leader recently stated, “…[PSYDEH] teaches us how to be independent women. And this helps us to move away a little bit from male chauvinism in this community. They teach us to be better women entrepreneurs and to have greater self-esteem.”
For women artisans, having the opportunity to market and sell their handmade embroidered goods online and retain personal income, whilst simultaneously engaging in transformational leadership training, tools, and support through long-term investment in their collectives creates meaningful opportunities not only to sustain their traditional crafts as a marketable trade but also to leverage their role as leaders alongside their male peers to address wider community needs.
As important, success with these short-term impact initiatives fuels sustained commitment to longer-term oriented, rights-focused, sustainable development work. Not to mention, these efforts generate the resources PSYDEH and our local partners need to produce more community-driven work.