Doris Cruz is a leader that has inspired more than 150 women to be part of the development of their community.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Peru (INEI), Ccapacmarca is one of the poorest districts in Cusco (#2) and the country (#321). Doris Cruz, the President of the Women’s Association of Ccapacmarca, is widely recognized as an inspiring and strong woman in the region and she is very aware of the main challenges of her community. One of the most urgent problems is the malnutrition of children and the few economic opportunities that men and women have, she shared.

As the President of the association she saw the CISAL Fund as an opportunity to strengthen the organization and empower women to be part of the development process of Ccapacmarca and help address the malnutrition of their children. Almost at 4,000 meters above sea level, Ccapacmarca has productive land to cultivate vegetables and fruits. So, Doris applied to the CISAL Fund with a social project to benefit 20 women with equipment to help produce vegetables and fruits in their lands and help with food security to their households. But this project has had a multiplying effect, because now, almost 150 women are producing, exchanging and selling products between them and in the local market. These 150 women are also having a better nutrition for their children and are contributing to the house and local economy.

The impact of this project goes beyond the households. Now the Women’s Association of Ccapacmarca is legally recognized and has presented three projects through a mechanism called: Participative Budgets, in order to benefit, inspire and motivate all the women in Ccapacmarca. We talked with Doris Cruz to know how women are making a difference to transform the reality of Ccapacmarca:

What was the situation in Ccapacmarca before the support of the CISAL Fund?

Before the CISAL Fund, there were about 32 women in the Women’s Association of Ccapacmarca and we were not organized at all – we did not meet regularly, and we were not legally recognized. Many of the women were locked in their homes, with almost no voice, and most did not produce vegetables or fruits on their farms.

How did the CISAL Fund help transform this situation?

The Fund helped us to legally organize the association, and purchase production equipment for 20 female heads of household. This had a transformative and multiplying effect. Today, the Women’s Association supports close to 150 women, who are able to work the land and feed their families, while also selling produce in the market for additional income.

What are you most proud of?

I am very proud of the Sunday fair that the Women’s Association created, where women can sell their produce and goods. The women now can make money and support their families. Before we were 32 women, today we are almost 150 women who have transformed their lives. Women are empowered, bringing income into their homes, gaining a space and a voice in their homes. This transforms everything, even domestic violence, because women are empowered, and men no longer feel they own everything.

In addition, we have gained power in decision-making and local government. For the first time in Ccapacmarca, we can take part in participatory budgets, because we are now legally constituted, thanks to the help of the CISAL Fund. We submitted three projects that will benefit the 150 women that are part of the organization.

What is the most significant change for the women in Ccapacmarca?

Before, women depended completely on their husbands. Today, we are part of the development of our region. Without representation at the regional level, there can be no hope of transformation. CISAL helped us establish a Women’s Agenda, which gives us the tools and shows us the way to improve our economic situation, our food sovereignty, our children’s health, and our political participation and the role we have in society.