Jhanett Jaqueline Paredes Vargas from Bolivia has been with Asociación Integral Multiactiva Pachamama for 8 years. The organisation has 25 members of which 95% are women. She was the president of the organisation in 2009 and 2010.
Jhanett Jaqueline Paredes Vargas, 35 years old
Asociación Integral Multiactiva Pachamama
“In my organisation we are almost only with women. There is great participation and no fear to speak. We listen and discuss what would be the best options and solutions to problems. It is easy to become a member as it is written in our statutes, the organisation encourages women to join and to become leaders. We also are trying to get scholarships for the daughters of the affiliates so that they can manage the organisation in the future.”
Economic empowerment is for Jhanett key to encourage female leadership. “Spaces where women can generate their own money is important to encourage female leadership. Women should generate almost the same amount of money as men to have equity, so men could not say, ‘I am the one who brings the wage, you only cook’. In Pachamama we encourage leadership by making women feel that they are empowered. Some people expect leaders to make decisions, but I want that everyone is involved and have their own voice.” Jhanett argues that the equality between man and woman should start at home.
From her experiences in the organisation, Jhanett sees that women have a developed mind: “Women deal with a lot of things. We are thinking about food, taking care of the children, look after the house. We are multitasking. Women can decide to work, do other things without neglecting our work as a mother.” But fulfilling the potential is not easy. “People think that when a woman is a leader, she is not doing her tasks at home. Sometimes men make fun of her, as they don’t expect women can combine being a leader and do the tasks that are designated to women.” Jhanett had learnt this directly from her experience.
In the beginning, it was easy for her to join the organisation. Her father was a leader in the organisation and he involved Jhanett because there was support from Caritas Coroico project that trained women on how to improve the cultivation of coffee. As a single mother, she needed a channel to sell her products, thus she chose to become an active member. Because of her active involvement she was appointed as Secretary of Records in the Central Agraria Tunquini. Later, she was encouraged to be a park guard, the first woman they ever guarded the National Park Cotapata. This was a typical man job, so she got discriminated by doing her job. But Jhanett didn’t gave up, she was able to give her opinions and in this way she became later the chairwoman of the organisation.
Jhanett argues that it is very difficult for women to become a leader.
“They do not listen to you, they laugh at you or intimidate you. To improve the possibilities for women to become a leader, there must be more respect for women.”
In the coming years, Jhanett wants to improve gender equality within the organisation, “I want to work with women, make them feel capable, create self-esteem, learn them to value and value others. I want to help young generations to have principles, integrity and to show them that women leadership is possible“