Leonor Pedroso’s sewing machine has dressed children in the Cuban town of Florida for 30 years. But it was only a few months ago that the seamstress was able to become formally self-employed.
“My husband, a small farmer, didn’t let me work outside the home,” Pedroso, 63, told IPS. “I could only sew things for neighbours or close friends, for free or really cheap. According to him, jobs weren’t for women.”
She is now one of the beneficiaries of a project funded by international development aid that helps women entrepreneurs with the aim of closing the gender gap, as part of the economic reforms underway in this socialist Caribbean island nation.
The project, carried out by ACSUR Las Segovias, a non-governmental organisation from Spain, and the local Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños (ANAP – National Association of Small Farmers), with financing from the European Union, provides training and inputs to 24 women, including farmers, craftmakers and rural leaders.