Fighting gender inequality in Peru and working for a better world
Many things drew Elena Soriano to the work she does with Cuso International in Peru, connecting with feminist organizations to advance gender equality in that country. But perhaps the strongest motivator for her now is her 2-year-old daughter.
“I want to leave her a better world,” says Elena, Program Manager with Cuso International for the Women’s Voice and Leadership project. “With a lot of passion and effort, I believe that world is possible.”
In her role, Elena supports four partner organizations – three feminist groups, Movimiento Manuela Ramos, Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristán (Flora Tristan Centre for Peruvian Women), Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Study for the Defence of Women’s Rights), and one Indigenous organization, Organización Nacional de Mujeres Andinas y Amazónicas del Perú (National Organization of Indigenous Andean and Amazonian Women) – in strengthening their women’s rights initiatives, programs, and advocacy work.
“These strong organizations are committed to the struggle to achieve gender equality in Peru,” she says.
The four groups are connected to 180 other women’s organizations in 14 regions. Over the past year, their efforts have contributed to new gender-sensitive policies and laws, including a law that assures gender parity and representation in the lists of candidates for Peruvian elections and a bill drafted to recognize and protect the rights of Mother Nature. In addition, Feminist Political Training Schools – a joint initiative led by the organizations Manuela Ramos and Flora Tristan – provided leadership training to 115 women from 11 regions in 2021.
Elena says it was her mother who initially inspired her to follow a path into the social and international development fields.
“She worked for an NGO as a field staff member and she passed on to me her love for social development projects. My mother always gave me the example of a working woman and mother, who fought for her family together with my father, and also for her own personal development.”
While the organizations she works with face many challenges, including structural inequality only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elena believes change is possible.
“My greatest hope for women and other marginalized populations is that they will have equal rights and opportunities and be respected in their diversity. I hope that the enormous gaps will be reduced steadily but surely.”