CEMUR: 18 years on the road, slowly but surely, little by little, with a clear goal: to empower ourselves as women.

The Center for Urban and Rural Women (CEMUR) celebrated its 18th anniversary.

It is a project developed in the city of Lagoa do Carro, in the State of Pernambuco, made up of women in vulnerable situations, which aims to: “to empower women and make them more resistant to the feminicide that is so prevalent there; to help them support their families in times of unemployment; to prepare them so that artisan work becomes a source of income in their lives, regardless of whether they have jobs or not.”

It all started with four women and a great project. Today there are about one hundred and fifty who have gone through it and continue practicing what they have learned. In its beginnings it was helped by the VIC Foundation, which thought that helping the organization would be a way to support and materialize our concern for the empowerment of women.

The rented space they used to meet was a place to share experiences, live together, let off steam and have a catharsis of liberation. Gradually, we realized that the extension of the project to other activities required advisors and teachers to provide guidance for the development of the activities, which could not be developed entirely as volunteer work. Its coordinator, Maria José Barbosa de Souza Aquino, known among friends as Zita, struggled to regularize the institution and find help of all kinds. Some initial projects such as: Project SEBRAE – Craft of Ribbons, Youth of the Future, contributed to the development of CEMUR.

Today we have many others; among them: “Rural Women: from self-esteem to economic independence”, the “Protagonism of Solidarity Economy” (in which the whole family participates, including children); “Citizen and Entrepreneurial Training”, with “productive farms” in which Women learn their rights, having workshops on: The importance of Family Agriculture, Associationism and Cooperatives, Social Security Rights, Women’s Entrepreneurship, Governance with participation, Labeling and Pricing, Violence against Women, “The Awakening of Everyday Life in the Life Cycle of Women, a new way to conquer their independence”, “Bakery for Beginners”; “Food Processing” and others.

Many of those who have taken these courses have become entrepreneurs and are already contributing to their families’ income. Being part of this project allows them to participate in the PAA – Food Acquisition Program for kindergartens and municipal schools. They can also participate in the sale by COOPEVALE- Cooperativa Mixta de Pequenos Productores e Pescadores do Vale do Capibaribe (a river that crosses Recife, the Capital), with which CEMUR is in partnership with the productive orchards, which is part of the PNAE- Programa Nacional de Alimentação Escolar (National School Feeding Program).

On August 8, the book “Camiños de São Saruê” will be launched with many texts written by children from 6 to 12 years old.

It is clear to them that selling products is not about making money, but about developing a culture and, above all, “doing everything with love”. I believe that this materializes what St. Joaquina said: “All for love, nothing by force”.

They celebrate parties with square dances and carimbó, where sometimes municipal authorities are present, they make tastings of various types of cakes, typical of the Pernambuco culture, made by themselves, opening spaces to make themselves known as an organization and at the same time to publicize their activities and products made.

A great achievement was that the Mayor promised to provide a space in the municipal market to sell their products.

Their testimony is impressive: some of them tell of their sufferings before they met CEMUR, as they were in great need to feed their families and were totally dependent on the good or bad will of their husbands or partners to buy food. One of them said: “I already have orders for cakes until December. I am very happy because the money is guaranteed.We have achieved economic autonomy and this is a blessing from God,” said some of them.

After so much effort and work, they received a donation of land in 2019 at the Women’s Conference in the Municipality of Lagoa do Carro, with a total area of 375m2.

At this moment they have a great challenge: to get resources to build, and with the strength, determination and tenacity they have and show every day… I am sure they will succeed.

Go. Virma Barion