Investing in women drives progress

Sustainable agriculture, Green cities, Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
Header image: Lidia Maria Calix, coffee producer from La Crucita, Yuscarán, Danlí, El Paraíso (Paraíso Verde project)07.03.2024
This Women's Day, Swisscontact joins the UN's theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress” because we believe that on the road to progress and equality, investment in women plays a fundamental role: it can generate economic growth, innovation and creativity, develops communities, and it promotes sustainability and equality.

Investing in women is a smart and strategic decision. It is not only a matter of equity, but also an investment in the future. Investing in women is essential to advance globally and move towards a fairer society where equal opportunities in education, employment and leadership are a reality.

This 8 March 2024, we reaffirm our commitment and efforts to achieve a future where every woman achieves her full potential and her contribution is fully valued and recognised.

Below, we share some stories of women leaders in projects across Latin America.

Filomena Mamani, coffee producer, winner of 1st place in the "Best of Caranavi 2022" Tournament, Bolivia.

Filomena won first place in the "Best of Caranavi 2022" tournament for its speciality coffee of the Geisha variety. The international jury of the tournament rated her coffee with 90.12 points, and her production was purchased by an important chain of coffee shops in La Paz. The "Best of Caranavi" competition is part of an innovative market access strategy that not only recognises the roles played by women producers of speciality coffees, but also strengthens their relationship with market players involved in the production, processing and marketing of coffee in Bolivia. 

Filomena and her partner have four children and live in Colonia Copacabana (municipality of Caranavi) at 1,500 metres above sea level. "The Best of Caranavi" is an event supported by the Inclusive Markets project. This project is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Belkis Beltrán: blazing a green trail in Honduran livestock farming.

In the community of El Barro, in the department of Danlí, Honduras, Belkis Beltrán has been a leading figure in regional livestock farming. As part of the Paraíso Verde project, she has led innovative initiatives that have actively involved women in the management of their farms, creating economic and social opportunities. The focus on women's empowerment has been key to the success of the Paraíso Verde project, with women participating in field schools where they share knowledge on climate-smart agricultural practices. These actions have improved livestock production and contributed to the decarbonisation of the department.

The “Paraíso Verde“ project aims to decarbonise the agricultural and forestry sector in the department of El Paraíso and is financed by the European Union.

Griselda Gómez Giraldo, organic cocoa producer, Finca El Retiro, Colombia.

Griselda and her family were displaced from their land years ago by violent groups in Antioquia Colombia. Now back, she prides herself on leading a sustainable lifestyle that protects the environment. Although she initially faced economic challenges on her organic farm compared to conventional farming, Griselda is confident that in the long run she will be rewarded by the diversity of her income and the preservation of biodiversity. The adoption of organic principles and regenerative agriculture promoted by the Paisajes + Sostenibles Antioquia project are fundamental for the cocoa plantations in Antioquia.

The Sustainable Sourcing Landscapes project is co-financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) through the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa SWISSCO Landscape Programme. Swisscontact implements the project together with Pakka and Colcocoa.

Jackelyn López, barista in Guatemala

Jackelyn López, a mother and worker mother, has been recognised for her commitment by obtaining a certification in Barismo Integral. In the midst of work challenges, she found support in the local organisation "Creamos", located in the centre of Guatemala City. This organisation provided her with training and internship opportunities through Swisscontact's Innova project. Thanks to this process, Jackelyn has managed to improve her income and quality of life. Now, as a coffee quality laboratory manager at the same company where she did her internship, she has secured a valuable job opportunity that has significantly transformed her life.

This project is financed by the Medicor Foundation, Esperanza Foundation, Gebauer Foundation, and atDta-Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Juana Haydee Brunes, a returnee migrant who receives 400 clients per month in her business, El Salvador.

Juana Haydee Lazo de Brunes, born in Anamoros La Unión in 1991, is an inspiring example of determination and entrepreneurship. Despite the challenges, she has turned her business "Los Lacitos" into a resounding success with a loyal clientele of approximately 400 people per month. Her story as a returned migrant from the United States to El Salvador shows her commitment to getting ahead and her love of cooking, which led her to embark on this venture after working in a modest photography studio. Juana transformed an idea into a profitable business, proving that perseverance can overcome any obstacle. With support and training from the Nuevas Oportunidades project, she turned her passion into business success.

This project is financed by the Medicor Foundation, Green Leaves Education Foundation, and Däster-Schild Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Transforming Lives: Empowering Waste Pickers led by Irene Ramirez in Colombia

Irene Ramirez, once a waste picker, has transformed her life over the years through her dedication and love for what she does. Today, she is the mastermind behind REMA, a recycling company that has grown significantly since its inception in 2009 in Cali. Her commitment to formalising the sector has led to a remarkable increase in the number of collectors, from 95 to 400 in just a few years. Moreover, its inclusive approach has ensured that 60% of these collectors are women, a remarkable achievement in a field traditionally dominated by men. This growth has not only benefited the company, but has also drawn attention to the essential work of waste pickers in urban landscapes. There is still a large number of informal workers in marginal and precarious jobs, as highlighted by the Circular Cities project, which is financed by the City of Zurich.

Evelia Caitú, waste picker and part of a waste pickers' association, Bolivia

Evelia Caitú is a 56-year-old waste picker. She earns her living recycling cardboard, paper, plastic and scrap metal. She lives in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia and has been a waste picker for just over six years.

Evelina belongs to Punto Naranja, a group of waste pickers supported by the Markets for Recycling project. In her early days as an independent waste picker, she worked up to 15 hours a day and walked an average distance of 10km collecting usable household waste. Now, with the differentiated collection programme, her work is valued and remunerated in a dignified way.

This project is financed by the Republique et Canton de Genève, the Esperanza Foundation, and the Foundation for the Third Millennium, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Zoraida Campos, community leader in safe housing awareness, Peru

Zoraida Campos has been a community leader in the Asentamiento Humano Elsa Carrera, in the southern district of Villa María del Triunfo, for the past two years. In addition to serving as treasurer, she has played a crucial role in raising awareness and connecting with neighbours to promote structural reinforcement solutions in the houses promoted by the VIPRO project, from which she herself benefited. Zoraida also works as a seamstress and shares her home with her youngest son, Yamil Farfán Campos. Zoraida shares her feelings: 

"I feel very satisfied because now my home is safer and more resistant, which offers us greater protection against risky situations such as the earthquake."

This project is financed by Hilti Foundation. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Sustainable agriculture
Inclusive Markets in Bolivia
The main objective of the program is "to improve the living conditions of the target population by helping them reduce their poverty situation". The purpose is "to increase the opportunities, capacities and income of the target population".The Inclusive Markets project is implemented in Bolivia with funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and...
Sustainable agriculture
“Paraíso Verde“: decarbonising the agricultural and forestry sector in the department of El Paraíso
The project will focus on agricultural and forestry value chains, compatible with the agroecological landscape approach, to reduce vulnerability to climate change, improve social inclusion, reduce deforestation and CO2 emissions, and increase forest restoration with better governance and local appropriation.
El Salvador, Guatemala
Labour market insertion, Migration
Nuevas Oportunidades: productive reintegration of returned migrants
The project seeks the economic reintegration of returned migrants. It enables returned migrants to certify the skills they have acquired in the United States or Mexico. After certification, they are supported in finding a job or starting their own business.
Green cities
Markets for Recycling: Waste Management in the Transportation Sector
Population growth coupled with increasing consumerism are factors that have negative impacts on the environment, such as the increased generation of non-recycled solid waste and the growing contamination of bodies of water, soil and air. A linear economy, based on exploiting, making and discarding, wastes natural resources and generates great...
Green cities
Progressive Housing project
This initiative aims to improve the supply of and access to appropriate services, products and technologies that will enable families in Lima to have better conditions for building or remodelling their homes.
Labour market insertion
Disadvantaged young adults will be able to successfully enter professional life through solid, high-quality training. In this way they will generate income for themselves and their families, freeing themselves from poverty on their own initiative.Young men and women are learning important technical skills in vocational training. Since the project...
Sustainable agriculture
Sustainable Sourcing Landscapes
The project seeks to improve the livelihood and wellbeing of rural families in the selected areas by creating sustainable sourcing landscapes with deforestation-free and climate-friendly supply chains for present and future generations.
Colombia, Bolivia, Switzerland
Green cities
Circular Cities – Colombia, Bolivia 
This project aims to improve the integrated and inclusive solid waste management system of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia and Santiago de Cali in Colombia following a circular economy vision.