In late 2010, two Peace Corps Volunteers, Kaitlyn Malkiewicz ('09-'12) and Bob Tuttle ('09-'12), began "Somos Mujeres" (We are Women), a program that now is a countrywide initiative. In San Cristobal in March and in Jarabacoa in April, 80 Dominican women hosted by 27 Peace Corps volunteers came together for the 2012 Somos Mujeres Regional Conferences. These 3-day events focused on empowering women to become leaders by enacting positive, sustainable changes in their communities, organizations, and families. For most of these women, this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Healthy cooking, the importance of exercise, and general women's health issues were important topics discussed during these conferences. Volunteers presented interactive "charlas" on the detection of breast and cervical cancer, prevention of heart disease and diabetes and, most importantly, HIV/AIDS and proper condom use.
Community Economic Development volunteers used their expertise to assist women in starting or strengthening their own small businesses. This activity, along with exercises in family budgeting and savings promoted a degree of economic independence. When a woman is more economically independent her self-confidence rises and she becomes much more likely to take better care of herself and her children.
|Participants of the Somos Mujeres conference in Jarabacoa
Throughout the three days, the PCVs encouraged the participants to see each other as resources and become a network of strong, local female leaders. By building their know-how, their confidence, and their network, Somos Mujeres helps women make positive changes in their families and their communities.
For more information on how you can help educate and empower women in the Dominican Republic, please visit Somos Mujeres on Facebook.