PSYDEH indigenous adult women partners live in 45 remote communities spread across four majority indigenous municipalities in the Otomí-Tepehua region of Hidalgo. Women are key to sustainable development, co-lead our present work and build their own projects to solve community challenges.
We know that women lead sustained progress through their roles as protectors of rights and law, policy advocates and drivers of social and economic development.
Why do women co-lead our work in this Region?
Women are the majority. They are central to families, communities and cultural traditions. Yet, their participation significantly lags that of men in leader training. And gender violence, discrimination and unequal distribution of civil society and familial labor are realities. For example:
- Few women lead the local government.
- 95% of women confront violence in their homes and schools.
- 95% of women face discrimination in their communities and schools.
The Region’s women, like all indigenous women in the State, confront sociocultural and political, economic, environmental, educational and climate-related obstacles that limit their potential as leaders.
Our partners work for a new reality. They learn about generative leader skills, how to run their own organizations and projects and ways to advance Mexico’s democracy. In just over four years, they have helped PSYDEH to produce myriad social impact in Hidalgo.
PSYDEH’s contribution lies in the example we set with native women. We:
- Improve recognition of shame, autonomy and clarity on challenges to sustainable development.
- Build knowledge of rights and laws on which spontaneous solutions to these challenges are based.
- Strengthen leader disciplines needed to ably use rights and laws when pursuing solutions.
- Mobilize a community-based umbrella network of women-led organizations and Cooperative (Network) across boundaries to drive development.
- Produce public forums through which the Network links with state and national leaders while negotiating solutions to challenges.
The power of our example derives from current measurable progress by women partners:
- SEEKING leader roles outside our program.
- CREATING pilot projects to solve local problems.
- FORMING their own community-based organizations and Regional Cooperative.
- COMPLETING their own Regional Development Agenda.
- ADVISING local government on how their municipal development plans meet or fall short of that which is outlined in their Agenda. For example, the 2017 Huehuetla Declaration of Indigenous Women and 2018 training on citizen’s rights to access public information and data privacy.
- USING our 2017 rights-based Field Manuel to share learning with their neighbors.
With strong funding in 2019-2020, we continue to progress by supporting women’s use of their rights to (a) increase participation in Mexico’s democracy, (b) produce more high impact projects to solve local problems and (c) connect women and government officials at public forums on development issues.
The Region’s indigenous women are valued decision-makers and leaders of PSYDEH. Current program activity reflects their demands.
- Women leaders clamor for more knowledge. Thus, dozens of workshops on the subjects contained in their Development Agenda have been delivered since 2015.
- They want to unite their region through shared economic opportunity. Consequently, we incubate the first Regional Cooperative.
- They want a well-run network of local women-led organizations. Accordingly, we legalized the organizations’ constitutions. We conduct training on organization management and public relations. And we help women leaders to lead or benefit from 22 local impact projects, including with our 2019 Seed Fund initiative.
- Women want to repeat their 2014 regional public forum experience linking with each other across their region. Thus, we have produced the 2nd, 3rd, 4th , and 5th forums at which over 900+ women leaders united around their development agenda, celebrated their new network of organizations and Cooperative with international friends and government funders, made two collective demands of public officials and discussed ways for increased female participation in electoral politics.
Moreover, fundraising for future work revolves around women’s demands, including (1) staffing up our capacity to improve impact measurement and financial reporting, (2) region-based, permanent PSYDEH presence – a safe space in which women can work with permanent, local-based women staff offering consistent professional and organizational coaching and psychological and basic legal support, and (3) increased support for the regional cooperative as well as how the women’s network can benefit from online crowdfunding platforms.
Women partners are empowered through an “indigenous woman-to-indigenous woman” methodology for change and the aforementioned integration of partner demands.
Indigenous women partners formally lead within PSYDEH. For example, Marisela Romero Cruz, a Nahuatl speaking community organizer based in Acaxochitlán, Hidalgo was a program participant in 2013 and joined PSYDEH in 2014 to facilitate workshops and organize women in her municipality. In 2015, she advised on program design, coordinated the Network’s activities and was workshop facilitator on Cooperative strategic planning and economics and sustainable development. In 2016, and upon returning to apolitical PSYDEH after running for local office, she continues to help lead the network’s growth.
Ms. Romero is one of PSYDEH’s all female, majority indigenous, community-based team training their citizen peers. All share common languages, Spanish and indigenous. All understand the Region’s challenges and opportunities. By design, each is involved in program implementation decisions and will remain to sustain the Network beyond PSYDEH’s initiative.