Sección de la Mujer and Women's Roles in UNAG
On the national level, almost 40% of UNAG’s members are women. These women are represented in a special section of the UNAG, The Women's Sector (Sección de la Mujer), which defends their rights to be considered equally in UNAG's structures and in their lives. The Sección de la Mujer was formed in 1987 with an emphasis on women in order to fight against their subordination and to struggle for social equality.
During the first week of our project, we spent much of our time with Ligia Briones, the president of UNAG-Estelí and of the Women's Sector at a national level, and Carmen Lisset, president of the Women’s Sector in Estelí. Both of them are responsible for the successes of the Sección de la Mujer in Estelí. According to them, women in the department of Estelí have some of the strongest voices and are more organized than those in other parts of the country. They also told us about the difficulties in the daily lives of female small-scale producers, stressing increased violence, limited access to health care, problems of nutrition and poor access to education. Their work consists of convincing women that being organized can help them overcome such difficulties.
During our home stays and especially when we attended a UNAG formation about self-esteem, we could notice how proud women were to tell us and show us that they were organized. Women were telling us that they were satisfied with the UNAG and proud to be the one in the family who was affiliated. Ligia Briones and Carmen Lisset also talked about the challenges women face in national and local UNAG meetings, where men are reluctant to give up their position. We could in fact notice during our meetings that there was a tendency for women to allow the few men present and a few vocal women to dominate the conversation.