According to the UNDP, Mexico is extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. 41.9% of its population already lives at or below the national poverty line. In the rural, indigenous areas in which we work, this number is 86%. The pandemic has already made another 18 million Mexicans poor, many of whom are extremely poor. And with sanitary measures in place until a vaccine is found, indigenous people, especially women, suffer disproportionately. This project uses short-and medium-term micro-economic, nutrition and psychological activities to empower, educate and sustain indigenous women and their families in these uncertain times.
Rural Mexico has been quarantined since mid-March 2020. Already marginalized and physically isolated, COVID-19 now deprives many indigenous families of their subsistence-economic livelihoods of selling local goods like handicrafts, coffee and corn. Indigenous women, often the main provider of food for families, are particularly hard hit. While Mexico opened up in the fall of 2020, the situation became grave again in the winter of 2020-2021, and we anticipate the country being unable to free itself from the pandemic until 2022. Indeed, its unclear for how long zones will stay closed, or how long it will take for the demand for local goods to recover.
Mexico's indigenous people weather COVID-19 as best as possible. PSYDEH, too, by merging forward-looking, human-rights oriented, women empowering work with short-term direct-assistance. This project supports PSYDEH in serving our nascent 5 indigenous women's organizations with (a) trustworthy coronavirus info they share with neighbors, (b) direct assistance to women artisans tied to social enterprise-like investment in selling their handicrafts, and (c) “learn-by-doing” training on micro-project development and sustainable use of natural resources as food security.
In normal times, ground-up, women-oriented, citizen-led development is a must. These are not normal times. Still, we cannot afford to turn away from sustained-progress-focused work. This project reflects indigenous women partner’s demands by delivering practical information, social-enterprise oriented investment resources and food assistance in a non-paternalistic way, with it being linked to handicraft production and training on sustainable problem solving. With success, we endure COVID-19 while planting the seeds for more women-led, local-driven actions.