The Women Empowerment Program is one of the cultural exchange programs organized by the State Department of the United States, and implemented by different organizations, one of them was the University of Connecticut. They partner with the University for Peace to organize this exchange program between women from Costa Rica and the United States, working in fields of sustainability, health and economic development.
As ECI Secretariat staff, I had the opportunity to participate in this program. The program started with a 4 week-training and job shadowing in the US. We had workshops on topics like innovation, intercultural dialogue, social entrepreneurship, also a historical account of the women’s role in US history.
Then, for 10 days each participant from Costa Rica visited their counterparts in the US. I had the opportunity to visit the Humans Impact Institute in Brooklyn, New York. They are a newly established NGO, with many good ideas and support from volunteers and youth activists interested in acting locally but with a global perspective.
As part of the program, the Costa Ricans had the opportunity to a social action with indigenous women in our country, and link this with our work. I decided to work with a women’s group from Quitirrisi, a town that is close to our offices, at the University for Peace. They do handicrafts using only natural materials (palm trees leaves, natural colors from flowers and roots).
As part of our collaboration, we’re organizing workshops with this women’s group and other local artisans, so they can form a network and try to use the principles of the Earth Charter as inspiration for their work, and else, help to spread these principles through their art.
The first workshop was on August 10th 2012, they learned how to do masks reusing materials like newspaper and boxes. We’ll continue with other workshops, and hope to strengthen this local Earth Charter artisans’ network.
ECI Secretariat, Costa Rica