The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) offered the first in a series of business workshops for migrant, refugee, and returnee women in Cúcuta, Colombia. These trainings aim to strengthen their entrepreneurial skills and improve access to job opportunities in manufacturing, food and textile industries, and arts and crafts, among other areas of employment.
The 70 participants of the inaugural workshop, held from January 20-29, share a common dream of wanting a better life for themselves and their families, after leaving or returning from Venezuela. Trainers opened the session by encouraging a conversation that helped them identify key vulnerabilities and challenges faced by migrant women, including women as sole wage earners and heads of households, housing crowding with multigenerational households or multiple families sharing a home, low levels of formal education, and the high demand of domestic chores and responsibilities.
The women learned about their rights, how to identify and prevent gender-based violence, and the services and support available to them. The trainers uncovered an actual instance of domestic violence experienced by a participant and referred the case to family police services for investigation.
The workshop raised awareness of traditional societal roles and how to overcome stereotypes that hold women back, labor rights, and how to achieve work-life balance. This new knowledge empowered the participants to recognize their potential in pursuing leadership roles and taking the initiative to follow entrepreneurial careers. The younger participants, ages 18-25, expressed greater interest in pursuing job opportunities over business careers, as a more effective path to securing a steady income.
The PADF team will offer a second workshop in February that will reinforce and expand on key topics.