Reviewed by Artemisa Castro Félix, executive director, Fondo Acción Solidaria, AC (FASOL), Mexico
It is impossible not to be moved by the work of the beautiful women portrayed in this book who, despite their differences, have similar stories and seek freedom. The 23 women profiled are among 87 nominees from 13 different countries of Latin America for Proyecto ELLAS’ Generous Awards. The awards celebrate and honour women who challenge the world and incite members of their communities to the daily rebellion referred to in the title and are among the millions of women in the region working to change the living conditions of their families, their communities, and themselves.
I welcome the fact that there are people and organisations willing to meet these women and make their struggles visible, like the authors of this book and the Global Fund for Community Foundations which supported its publication. Without them, their stories would remain untold, yet, as the authors argue, ‘they are leading the most important changes in the communities of the region’. The women nominated for the awards come from different backgrounds and contend with different problems, but one thing unites them: they see ‘gender inequality as one of the greatest political problems of our time’.
The book confirms to me the importance of working together, so that the small voices of the groups of women fighting for socio-environmental justice for their communities, like those that we in Fondo Acción Solidaria in Mexico support, can resonate throughout Latin America. As Teresita del Pilar Cabrera from Ecuador, one of the women featured in the book remarks, ‘it is good to know that we are many who, every day, work to improve the situation of women in every corner, in every city, in every country in Latin America.’
I recognise, too, that generosity is part of the nature of these women. As Saskia Niño de Rivera says in describing her campaign to change the penal system in Mexico, ‘generosity is the basis of what I do… It is more than giving, it is connecting with people around you. If we were all more generous, the world would be different.’
These women are very clear that they do not seek to compete with men, they seek to work together, each one contributing the different and complementary things that they have to offer. However, they also know that economic independence gives them emotional independence, that as entrepreneurs their dreams can take flight.
It’s a book to feel as well as to think about. I liked the fact that it made me laugh and, at one point, had a lump in my throat when I read the words of Lucinda Mamani, a teacher in rural Bolivia, talking about a day when snow fell: ‘The school opens at 8.30am. It got to 10am and no-one had arrived… We were about to suspend classes when we saw that the kids were starting to arrive, one by one. It was exciting; they knew I was waiting for them.’
After reading this compendium of stories, I remain committed to working with women. Let us continue to be in solidarity and let’s build a global movement of generous women, women who get up every day with one idea: a better place for everyone.
About the book
Published by: Fundo ELLAS/Global Fund for Community Foundations
To order: Free to download from http://www.ellasfilantropia.org