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Every day Aurora Zarate arranges the products on the window of her pulpería, a convenience store, before opening it. She brings here the fruits and vegetables from the plot of land she owns and also homemade sweets and cakes. It’s a tiny business in a small rural community in Nueva Segovia, northern Nicaragua, but it’s has improved enormously Aurora’s life.
Aurora standing proudly on her plot of land. Photo: Santiago Agra Bermejo
“I can earn 50 córdobas on a bad day and around 500 on a good one (1.6€ and 16€) so the shop is successful, and I can cover the house expenses and the school material for my grandchildren,” she says proudly. Since she built the pulpería, sales are going up. “I don’t sell more because I don’t have more products”.
Thanks to Trócaire’s partner COACOV, a cooperative made up mostly by women, Aurora built her shop and bought a small plot of land. “Now I produce enough corn and beans for the whole year, and I only use organic techniques because COACOV taught us how to do it.” With willpower and hard work, Aurora was able to pay in just the credit she borrowed in three years instead of five.
Aurora is now part of the minority of women owners of land in Nicaragua.
Trócaire and its partners have been working for years facilitating the access for women to land in different ways, such as buying, renting and sharecropping. Right now there is an ongoing project called “Land for women, opportunities for life”, funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) that is boosting this work. It is hard to know the actual number of women landowners in Nicaragua due to the lack of comprehensive statistics. The “Agrarian Census” show that only around 23% of women own land, according to a report printed with the help of Trócaire and BLF.
Aurora selling her produce. Photo: Santiago Agra Bermejo
Aurora was lucky, and she bought a plot of land just beside her house, but many women are facing problems to find affordable and suitable plots not too far away from their communities. Land is an expensive commodity in Nicaragua due to the expansion of massive monocrop farms of tobacco and coffee. Some women are also afraid of not being able to pay back the credit.
Changes in Aurora’s life go beyond the economic situation.
“I’m very grateful to Trócaire because now we have the place in society that we deserve, now we are empowered, we are not afraid of men anymore”. She has been a member of COACOV for more than ten years and now Aurora wants to be an example for other young women. “I am old now, but we need to move forward, and I will never give up telling them that they need to push forward to!”
“I am really proud of what I have achieved” Aurora says walking between her fruit trees, “we are women with power now, we do what we want to do.”
By Santiago Agra Bermejo