Since 2008, the International Day of Rural Women has sought to acknowledge and recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty. To mark the day, Progressio ICS volunteer, Benjamin Jones, visited Elsy Mendoza, a single mother living in the community of Santa Cruz. This is the blog he wrote after meeting Elsy.  

For the past four years, Elsy has built a creative micro-enterprise from the traditional piñata. Brought to Central America by the Spanish in the 16th century, piñatas are a traditional game where a container filled with treats is broken open in celebration of a special occasion.

If you walk past Elsy’s house on a sunny day, you’ll find an array of colourful creations drying on the roof of her home. This home doubles as the shop she runs to support her young daughter.

Formed of newspaper and wire, the piñatas resemble popular cartoon characters, from Bob Esponja (Spongeob Square Pants) to Hello Kitty. She seeks inspiration from birthday cards but can also tailor bespoke designs upon request for the small fee of 90 lempiras (approx. £3).

Elsy is among the 25% of Honduran women earning the majority of her household’s income. She is challenging stereotypical gender roles despite the many obstacles women are facing in Honduras, including illiteracy, teenage pregnancy and poor access to credit.

Gender equality is central to the work of Progressio. We are supporting marginalised women through workshops, supplementary labour and technical assistance. It is inspirational stories such as Elsy’s that motivate the dedicated team of Progressio ICS volunteers currently on placement in Guayape, Honduras.

It is for women like Elsy that the International Day of Rural Women exists; to highlight how “collectively, rural women are a force that can drive global progress.” (UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon).

To find out more about the International Day of Rural Women, click here