woman in pink

February 2015

ESPERA Highlight
Reflections on Traveling with the Women of ESPERA 
by Anna Zaros, Development and Outreach Director


In Cuentepec, Mexico, a rural, indigenous village, the women who participate in the ESPERA program gather to discuss what is working well with their businesses, and what they need more support with.  
Photo Credit: David Hong
Just last week I returned from two weeks of visiting ESPERA groups in El Salvador and Mexico. It was a great adventure of bumping around in the back of trucks, getting some sun in the middle of a Minnesota winter, and eating an infinite number of warm, fluffy tortillas. But most of all the experience was deeply inspiring - in the moments women opened up to me about their personal economic difficulties, the cultural sharing, and the pride each woman had as she shared her name and what her business does. We'll be sharing so many stories, videos, and photos over the next few weeks, but I wanted to highlight here some of my impressions after these two weeks of learning!

ESPERA Loans Provide Access to Economic Goods


Overall, the need for continuing community lending pools and Mary's Pence staff visits is so apparent. It is also clear that we could continue to expand our program to meet need. Women clearly can improve their lives with the credit they receive from the ESPERA fund - most can't get a loan from a bank, or afford the high interest rates. In almost every ESPERA group I visited, the women told me   

Myrna stands proudly near her herd of cattle!

that they use the loan to buy raw materials - these are expensive and the ESPERA loan is often the boost the women need to get their business started.


For example, I met Myrna and Marta in the community of Aguacayo, outside of Suchitoto, El Salvador. They worked together to buy cattle - which is rare for women to do in El Salvador...

JusticeIssue of Justice   

At the Intersection of Gender and Economy 

By Eva Martinez-Menjivar, ESPERA Promoter, and Anna Zaros


Eva Martinez-Menjivar, ESPERA Promoter
Between July and December of last year, Eva, ESPERA Promoter, participated in a  certification program on Gender and Economy. The certification was led by economics faculty from the Universidad Nacional de El Salvador, along with female teachers and feminists from various women's organizations in the country.


Eva was the only woman who was accepted to participate from the Concertación de Mujeres in Suchitoto, El Salvador. She told us, "This certification is a great opportunity for women to improve their academic and intellectual knowledge, and this serves to empower women and to help us acquire our autonomy." Topics included the caring economy, globalization and its impacts, the economic rights of women, patriarchy and capitalism, and social movements, among others.  

Just one example of women's work, Felipa, who lives in Cuentepec, Mexico, makes these artisan handicrafts, in addition to her agricultural production and animal husbandry work.
Photo Credit: David Hong


Eva summarized her experience: "It was a very good and interesting experience. It allowed me to obtain new knowledge, and otherwise learn about the economic reality in which women live, and to reflect upon it. It allowed us to learn more about the realities of other women...and above all, that our gender is not separated from the economy, we are a whole, and the economy affects all types of work that human beings do. [W]e can appreciate the economy from another point of view, that it is not just through capitalism."


She wrote about how women contribute to the economy, especially poor women who work hard through agriculture production and small market sales, but that this contribution is invisible to the population and to the government...


Continue reading about Eva's experience here.



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Do you live in the Twin Cities area?

St. Frances Cabrini Church will be hosting a Mary's Pence Lenten Soup Supper and Reflection, "Solidarity in a Time of Separateness" on Saturday, February 21 following the 5pm mass. All are welcome! 


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We envision a world where empowered women and their communities flourish in solidarity and justice. Mary's Pence invests in women across the Americas by funding community initiatives and fostering collaborations to create social change.

Imaginamos un mundo en el cual, las mujeres empoderadas y sus comunidades, florezcan en solidaridad y justicia. Mary's Pence invierte en iniciativas comunitarias de mujeres en las Américas y fomenta la colaboración para crear cambio social.


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In This Issue


Issue of Justice: At the Intersection of Gender and Economy





Photo Credit: David Hong

Who shall find a valiant woman?
Look! We are all around you...
some say non-existent,
but we know otherwise.


She is in the work rooms of industry and on every functioning enterprise.
Broadminded, her global perspective is a source of nurture for her.
She rises early, before the dawn,
to prepare food for her family
and organise the tasks of the day...
setting standards,
changing the course of history.


She considers her options, then makes her move,
investing the experience she already has
or even profits previously earned.


She works diligently, taking pride in her inner resources and strengths.


When her gifts are encouraged and their value affirmed,
she will work well into the night,
entering wholeheartedly into even the menial tasks...


She opens her heart to the needy,
she is generous with the poor,
yet she does not neglect her family's needs
nor priorities of her own...


She often speaks with wisdom, and she teaches in a kindly way...
Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:

'Many women succeed or do outstanding things, but you surpass them all...'



Valiant Women, Miriam Therese Winters




Mary's Pence

 Contact us: (651) 788-9869