field work news

Irish Government & Female Artisan Cooperatives

The Irish government has chosen PSYDEH to be one of only seven non-profits across Mexico to receive short-term funding through its Ireland-Mexico Cooperation Fund for Human Rights 2021. We use this support to help produce a multi-year program organizing female artisan cooperatives built out of our ongoing pandemic-focused work.

Why female artisan cooperatives in 2021?

Since the onset of COVID-19, rural Mexican communities in Indigenous areas like those in which PSYDEH works have been hit particularly hard. Decreased local mobility and tourist traffic due to public health restrictions lead to plummeting economic activity and this means skyrocketing poverty and violence rates, especially for women.

PSYDEH’s female-centric, community-led development model supports women partners to own their power as the leaders and businesswomen they are, seen by themselves and their male and local government official peers as having an important, needed voice in their own communities’ sustainable development.

We know that if these women lack economic resources, they lack the ability to use their freedom to associate, among other rights. They struggle to do for themselves, often controlled by men with the purse strings. They lack the cachet to convince others of their problem-solving role.

Our own recent survey of Indigenous women from our target work areas found that a strong majority make less than $1000 MXN ($49 USD) per month. There is no industry and thus no dignified-waged work. This survey also tells us that women value learning while earning money and combating gender inequality through culturally expressive artisanal work. As an Otomí woman states:

“…[PSYDEH] teach[es] 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.”

Thus, we have been developing through iterative experiments what we now call Bordamos Juntos, a social enterprise initiative produced in collaboration with Ayuda Mutua CDMX. This enterprise puts money in women’s pockets, with all net profit going back underwriting more economic solidarity activities like, for example, the program in which the Ireland government now invests.

To where will Irish Funds be directed?

We strategically use this resource in tandem with other recent funding from Germany-based Lemonaid and ChariTea Foundation to lay the groundwork for organizing women-led cooperatives. Doing so supports traditional Indigenous art practices, provide direct income to rural artisans and foster sustainable economic development in these hard-hit rural communities.

What does this partnership mean for PSYDEH?

Times are challenging due to the pandemic and the federal government cutting all funding for Mexican civil society, but PSYDEH has a way forward. Foreign government partnerships are a long-sought-after piece of our master plan to diversify resource streams. This collaboration with Ireland marks the first in what we hope will be a series of partnerships with foreign governments. 

What is the Ireland-Mexico Cooperation Fund for Human Rights 2021?

The Embassy of Ireland in Mexico is aware of the situations of generalized violence faced by some communities, as well as the challenges and dangers this poses for women, migrants, environmental and human rights defenders, and the environment. In addition, and in response to the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s funding of €35,000 (approx. $700,000MXN) focuses on small-scale development projects produced by non-profits like PSYDEH to mitigate the impact of the crisis and/or promote peace at the local level. Successful projects like ours will address the root causes of poverty and injustice in a way that is strategic and cost-effective.



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