Unity makes strength for Nicaraguan women


A group of women from northern Nicaragua are bringing their own interpretation to the saying “Unity makes strength,” joining their creative forces to combat poverty.

The group turned their individual talents as seamstresses working from home into a cooperative to produce and sell clothing and uniforms. The women are among some 3,000 who are benefitting from an MDG-Fund-financed programme to empower Nicaragua’s women, by improving their economic opportunities and encouraging them to participate in social, political and economic decision-making.

Through the joint programme, the seven members of the “Cooperativa Omero Guatemala” received training in such areas as gender equality, citizen participation and the exercise of their rights. The association for Small and Medium Enterprises taught them how to prepare a business plan, and the Ministry of Labor provided training in labor rights.

Starting a business led to changes in the women’s family lives. One member’s husband supported her, first with computer training and later by showing her how to surf the Internet to find ideas for new designs and techniques.

But others in the cooperative reported that their partners had difficulty with the new dynamics; the joint programme is helping them navigate these issues through workshops on gender and self-esteem designed to teach the women to advocate for themselves and negotiate a fair division of household tasks.

The programme also provides health care, including access to Pap smears, breast exams and services aimed at preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

In the department of Matagalpa, the crisis in the coffee sector has depressed incomes by 20 percent and some 30,000 families are without work. There, the joint programme funded a group of women who established a poultry farm to generate income and provide food for their families.

The farm has grown to 270 chickens which produce ten cases of eggs a week; the increased productivity and the women’s improved access to health care are all contributing to a better quality of life for the farm’s owners. The women’s next challenge is to register as a cooperative under the name: "The New Dawn".


The joint programme, “From Rhetoric to Reality: Promoting Women's Participation and Gender Responsive Budgeting,” is led by UN Women, and is a collaboration between the United Nations and the Nicaraguan government. It encourages public policies with a focus on gender equality to promote the economic empowerment of women, encourage their participation in decision-making processes in economic, social and political development, improve access to quality health services and curb domestic violence.

The joint programme is part of the MDG-Fund’s efforts to help Nicaragua reach the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating hunger and poverty and achieving gender equality.

Click here to read about the MDG-F's work in Nicaragua.

Click here to read other success stories from the MDG-F's work to fight poverty and improve livelihoods around the world.

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