“Avancemos por la igualdad” (Moving Forward Equality): Mexican Women Entrepreneurs
- Alliance for gender equality
@onumujeresmx #AvancemosPorLaIgualdad #8M #diadelamujer #hazmeviral #igualdaddegenero #destacame ♬ sonido original - OnuMujeresMX
Inanother great public demonstration of the empowerment of women and girls, the "Carrera Bonafont 2023” (Bonafont Race 2023) took place, as it does every March, as part of International Women's Day.
In its 19th edition, 36,000 women, the highest number of participants registered, ran for equality in the emblematic "Paseo de la Reforma" in Mexico City. This race, which takes place within the framework of a successful alliance between UN Women and Bonafont, a brand of the Danone Group, which launched the "Avancemos por la Igualdad" (API) program in 2018 with the objective of promoting the economic empowerment of women and equal opportunities for women and men, as it contributes directly to gender equality, poverty eradication, growth of economies and sustainable development.
The program consists of an innovative work model under three guiding pillars: 1) Inclusive economic recovery by promoting women's economic empowerment in some of the areas affected by the September 2017 earthquakes: in Mexico City and Oaxaca. It contemplates an entrepreneurship training program to boost sustainable businesses led by women. 2) It seeks to promote gender equality within Danone in Mexico, ensuring that all women have the same working conditions and opportunities as men. 3) It is focused on raising awareness of equal employment opportunities for men and women.
- “Avancemos por la igualdad” (Moving Forward Equality): Mexican Women Entrepreneurs
Erika is part of API's program, "Avancemos por la igualdad" (Moving forward for equality). She attended the program two years ago and beyond helping her with her business, it was a key tool for her personal development: "I have made progress with my business and I have learned to manage it and to be able to cope with problems, economic problems and even depression".
Her business started with gift bags that she manufactures but thanks to the input and ideas of her fellow program members she was incorporating details and developing new products. Now she not only sells classic gift bags but also bags that are eco-friendly, providing a small detail, an object that is also reusable.
The administration and growth of the business is key for entrepreneurs. Also, getting to know each other, sharing experiences, and partnering to promote their businesses beyond their territories. Victoria comments: "To be able to manage our business, to be able to guide it towards a good path and make it grow little by little and reach other places, not only in our neighborhoods, but maybe in other states, in my case, I have reached Veracruz, Puebla and Michoacán".
As his venture expanded, family support grew. "Now they see that I really can. I feel they are supporting me in getting me clients or manufacturing, little by little, they are integrating with me."
Victoria Gomez Romero, participated in the second wave of API.. She runs a child care center and participating in this experience helped her cope with the period of confinement. "It made my life easier and I loved that it gave me skills while I was at home. I would really like to see many women included in this and give a great quality in service or in the products we offer."
Having the time to learn is another challenge for women who not only run their business, but also do care and domestic work. However, this entrepreneur assures that this time dedicated to learning has had a significant impact: "I spent two months training and it was an investment, because it gives us tools to facilitate our work and provide better services, and little by little we become better. This helps us grow as women. UN Women also helped me to become resilient and to see that I am a person capable of doing everything I promised myself.
“Moving Forward Equality” (Avancemos por la Igualdad- API in Spanish) is a program launched in 2018, through a successful partnership with a key private sector actor, Danone, and its bottled-water brand Bonafont, focused on the economic empowerment of women and equal opportunities for women and men. This partnership is based on a 3-pillar model, one of them focused on generating awareness towards women’s equal access to opportunities. Within this framework, each year we run along thousands of women in a public demonstration of empowerment of women and girls. On it’s 19th edition, the Bonafont race gathered 36,000 women running for gender equality. “In Mexico, since 2018, UN Women and Bonafont, have worked together to transform women’s lives and raise public awareness about equal work opportunities through the Moving Forward Equality program. Working on strategic partnerships along with communications and a programmatic approach, make the race just one part of a bigger approach to promote women’s economic empowerment.” Alejandra d’Hyver, Coordinator of Economic Empowerment Projects at UN Women Mexico.
“Moving Forward Equality and this race, have proved to be a successful example of programmatic, strategic partnerships and communications joint efforts and coordination and of the amazing things that UN Women does to engage key partners from different sectors to work for gender equality.” Roxana Flores, Head of Communications in Mexico.
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Shunaxi Martínez Santiago is a 31-year-old mother from the municipality of Juchitán de Zaragoza in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. During the September 2017 earthquake, she lost her house, which forced her to move to another town together with her two children.
Before the earthquake, she had worked at a company for 10 years until she gave birth to her second child, and decided to launch an online business: “It was very difficult to quit my job and dare to do something new, as I had a secure income. At the beginning, I thought it was impossible, but I also thought of my children, of being able to spend time with them; of my daughter, who was about to go to middle school; of my baby, who had recently turned one year old. Then, I decided, in spite of everything, that I would start a business on my own,” said Shunaxi.
Months after launching her online business and having lost her house during the earthquake, she received an invitation to attend the UN Women and Bonafont training courses as part of the “Avancemos por la igualdad” (Moving Forward Equality) economic recovery program. “I was very excited to participate in the trainings. The first months, I had to travel for one and a half hours from Matías Romero to Juchitán, where I used to live before the earthquake. I would leave at 10 am in order to arrive on time. I wanted to learn about entrepreneurship, and apply that knowledge to my online business,” mentioned Shunaxi Martínez.
During the first six workshops, taking place every Tuesday and Thursday, Shunaxi would commute from one town to the other in order to attend the trainings. On the days prior to her weekly trip, she would try to sell as many products as possible, such as makeup, baby accessories, among others, in order to compensate for the days she would be off while on training. In addition, she made an effort to sell more in order to pay her transport expenses and not to miss any lesson.
Currently, Shunaxi sponsors and raises funds for people suffering from different illnesses and for individuals with disabilities. As a result of her participation in the Program, she created a cooperative called Mujeres Artesanas de Juchitán (Craftswomen of Juchitán), selling crafts through a Facebook page. “My goal with what I learned in the trainings is to finally be able to set up a physical shop in Juchitán,” stated Shunaxi Martínez.
Shunaxi Martínez is one of the 152 women who graduated from the "Avancemos por la igualdad" capacity strengthening program, which is part of the global partnership between UN Women and Grupo Danone.
As part of their partnership in Mexico, UN Women and Bonafont –a brand of Grupo Danone– launched the Program in 2018 focused on the economic empowerment of women in communities affected by the 2017 earthquake in Mexico City and Juchitán de Zaragoza, Oaxaca. The goal of the Program is the economic reactivation of areas affected by the earthquakes through innovative business initiatives. Some of these enterprises intend to be time-saving, such as cocinas económicas –simple restaurants built around home-cooked food–, day care facilities, nurseries, and launderettes.
The first generation started being trained in 2018. Two “Avancemos por la Igualdad” training centres started operations, with on-site nurseries available. In that edition, a total of 102 women from Juchitán, Oaxaca, and 50 from Mexico City participated. Training courses focused on strengthening entrepreneurial and leadership abilities. Examples of businesses developed by women include the manufacturing of school uniforms, bakeries, nutritional counseling, grocery stores, cocinas económicas (restaurants that serve accessible homemade-like food), and a philosophy school.
“At the trainings, I learned all about organizational skills and costs, but also not to work for free, and value my work and what it represents. As an online retailer, I need to find product delivery spots. At the training, I learned how to become organized, as well as to keep control of my expenses and purchases,” added Shunaxi Martínez.
Furthermore, 120 women benefitted from gender-responsive psychological care and risk management workshops.
In the case of Mexico City, Guadalupe Chávez Salazar, aged 40, and Irma Jiménez Estrada, 47, also decided to attend the trainings, as their borough, Iztapalapa, was one of the most severely damaged areas in the city during the earthquake.
“We decided to work as a team after several buildings collapsed in our neighborhoods. Many families were affected. Yet, mothers have to go to work, so we decided to support our community by setting up a cocina económica (restaurants that serve accessible homemade-like food). Both Irma and I take care of our households, and these trainings have helped and inspired us to pursue our project and learn about ways to achieve it. We hope that in 6 months, with all the knowledge we have acquired, we will be able to make our cocina económica a reality", added Guadalupe Chávez.
Guadalupe Chávez, Irma Jiménez and Shunaxi Martínez participated in the Bonafont Race for a Cause on March 10th, which is the world's largest women’s race and is part of the global partnership between UN Women and Grupo Danone. “The energy of all those women. Seeing that I was not the only one running with my child in arms, but that there were many other women holding their babies too. Seeing young, adult, and elderly women filled me with joy, and reaching the goal was a great satisfaction,” said Shunaxi after receiving her medal.