BLINC’s celebration of International Women’s Day was a great success. The IWD event was held at La Ruca on Tuesday, 8th March 2011, and was chaired by Jo Howard. Guests began to arrive at 6pm for a typical Nicaraguan meal that included gallo pinto, and enjoyed a sampling of music recorded by various Latina artists, including Mercedes Sosa (Argentina), Toto la Momposina (Colombia), and Susana Baca (Peru). Our first speaker, Nathalie Vivas, the head of the energy section at the Venezuelan embassy gave an interesting talk about the progression of gender equality in Venezuela’s various sectors, including examples about women’s involvement in governmental positions, the labour market, and the women’s role in the home. Guests participated in a question and answer session with Nathalie after her presentation.
The Bristol Cuba Solidarity Campaign (http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk) contributed to BLINC’s IWD event with the recently produced Cuban documentary, Con la memoria en el futuro. Yvonne Wilkin spoke a bit about the Bristol Cuba Solidarity Campaign’s activities, and provided guests with a brief background on the history of women’s rights in Cuba, including the advancements gained by the Federation of Cuban Women. A 25 minute-long segment of Con la memoria en el futuro was screened and included interviews addressing men, women and adolescents’ thoughts about various topics including divorce, women leaders in the workplace, and whether it is acceptable for a woman to work while a man stays at home to assume the role of a traditional housewife.
The second speaker was Jitzy Centeno, a Fairtrade coffee producer from Nicaragua who is also part of the Tierra Nuestra women’s cooperative. Jitzy was in Bristol for Fairtrade Fortnight, speaking at 13 different schools about her work in Nicaragua and the benefits of being part of the Fairtrade system. For the IWD event, Jitzy spoke about the formation of the Tierra Nuestra cooperative and its alliance with the longer established Fundación Entre Mujeres (La FEM). She also spoke about the role of her mother as a community leader, and the work that Tierra Nuestra is doing in order to educate women in areas including reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, gendered violence prevention, literacy, vocational training, and sustainable harvesting. Her talk was followed by the screening of La FEM’s documentary which highlights the progress that la FEM has achieved, and how women’s lives have changed because of it. Guests were given the chance to ask questions after Jitzy’s talk.
The night ended with Jitzy showcasing some of the products that La FEM sells, including hibiscus tea and jam, organic Nicaraguan coffee, and La FEM t-shirts. Guests were given the opportunity to purchase Jitzy’s products. By the time everyone left, Jitzy had sold out of everything except t-shirts. Guests were interested to know whether they could purchase Jitzy’s products in the UK, and asked if they could have more information about her cooperative and about BLINC’s work.