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A Bright Star for Mayan Women in Belize

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Project Title: Strengthening Q’eqchi Maya Women’s Access and Control of Economic Resources through Sustainable Agriculture, Business Development and Marketing Logistics

Supported by: The European Commission

Objective: To increase gender equity and economic parity among Maya women in Belize through the creation of a women-run farmers association that combined Western sustainable practices with ancestral cultivation and introduced new marketing methods.
Summary: SATIIM coordinated a project to promote the social and economic empowerment of one of the most marginalized groups in Belize: Maya women. SATIIM worked with women in the Q’eqchi village of Midway in southern Belize. The women formed a farmers cooperative they named Bright Star. It served as the center of training on new sustainable agricultural methods and business planning. By the end of the project, Midway women were running their own vegetable and farm supply store in the village and looking to increase their inventory.
*SATIIM conducted research and published the report, The Main Barriers and Constraints of Qeqchi Women’s Participation in Economic Activity in Toledo.
* The project increased gender equity among Maya women in southern Belize by first creating the first bylaws in an indigenous association to specifically include a section on women’s rights.
*Midway women created a business plan and then started to operate their own business – the first women-run supply store in the village. As a result, they manage their own incomes. They have also started to plan for another enterprise.
*The construction of a storage facility enabled, for the first time, Midway farmers to store their corn, instead of selling the fresh harvest to brokers who re-sell back to them at ten times higher prices.
*New sustainable farming practices resulted in yields 200% higher than plots in the region.
Lasting Impact: As a result of the project, the Bright Start women’s cooperative made plans to continue using the new agricultural practices to cultivate their traditional food, given the high yields. They have also started planning an organic chicken business.. Their goal is to become one of the biggest suppliers for the surrounding villages of these locally grown birds that are always in high demand and command higher market prices.