Strengthen the Thread is a project in which female sufferers of gender violence in the Department of San Marcos, Guatemala, seek to produce and market handicrafts made with traditional Guatemalan fabrics. However, our ultimate goal goes beyond finding a source of decent work and a fair wage for these women: we aim to raise funds to support the Women’s Network of San Marcos, which since 2005, has been working toward the empowerment of women and the fulfillment of their rights, as well as becoming self-sufficient and lifting the voices of women everywhere. We are determined to meet our goal: now we only need an initial investment in order to buy machinery, provide a space for production/ safe house for victims of domestic violence, and to pay every production worker a living wage. If you help support us in this beginning process, by December 2016 we will be able to market our first series of products. The revenue we receive from this first batch of production will serve to self-finance the Women’s Network, continue creating political empowerment for the members, and also the continuation of production for export. We are determined to achieve our goal: to weave our own autonomy.
The Women’s Network of San Marcos
The Women’s Network, above all, is the loom of our autonomy. Before threading the needle with us, you present it. This is a women’s organization located in Guatemala, specifically the Department of San Marcos on the Western side of the country. Since 2005, with very limited resources, we have worked to empower women in the knowledge and demand of their rights; increase their political participation in the decision-making processes; fight against gender violence; accompany legal cases of such violence; provide them with professional psychological support, and ultimately, to fight for the independence of women.
Context: Guatemala and Violence Against Women
Guatemala has been characterized as an absent State—or often an accomplice—of vast inequalities and human right’s violations that occur within the country. Regarding violence against women specifically, in Guatemala one in two women have suffered some form of gender violence, and in the Department of San Marcos alone, more than 268,000 women have become victims of this type of aggression. However, out of this high number of attacks, only 253 complaints have been convicted. The situation is alarming, and we must respond loudly. We cannot stop our advocacy actions that demand to change this situation. So we weave, united and committed, our autonomy. Weaving is not our purpose, it is our tool to gain our rights.
To date, more than 90% of the women that participate in the Women’s Network live in rural areas and suffer from poverty or extreme poverty. Approximately 50% are illiterate, and only 45% have completed a primary education. The Women’s Network is also a tool to reach our potential within our possibilities, to learn that we can live with dignity as long as our rights are respected, and to correct the grievances we carry from a history of exclusion.
Objective of Strengthen the Thread: to weave our autonomy
The Women’s Network has previously been supported by international projects, but since December 2015, has been left without funds to continue developing our organization. Budget cuts in funding for international cooperation has led to the abandonment of many NGOs in Guatemala.
For some time now, through all the components that make up the Women’s Network, we have been realizing the necessity of finding our own self-sustainability, ie., find an activity that will generate the necessary income to support our work and, why not, grow our goals. It was in this context that the idea of Strengthen the Thread was born.
Therefore, Strengthen the Thread will become the production branch of the Women’s Network and will initially consist of the most vulnerable group of women, those who have suffered from gender violence in any of its forms (physical, sexual, psychological, economic, etc.). If the project is a success and becomes self-sustainable, we will begin to incorporate other profiles of women who would earn a living wage as well.
Watch this video to learn more about our project: :
Chek out our website for more information.
Products of Strengthen the Thread*
As an organization, we desire to reclaim our culture, our identity, and our ancestral practices of indigenous peoples, which are being lost because of the profound racism that prevails in Guatemala, the ferocious rise of capitalism, and consumption practices that exponentially increases poverty in the communities of our women.
In the Department of San Marcos, we tell stories of our ancestral art, which remains of great worth to us. We have always valued our unique and precious traditional fabrics made with standing weaving looms. This art form is something we have to learn and improve, but with strength and commitment to this weaving through the Women’s Network, we will begin with clear determination to make and sell our traditional fabrics that allow us to strengthen our independence.
Some of our products are modern adaptations of traditional designs, however the techniques we use are of our ancestors and the same they have always used to make the traditional dress of Mayans.
The means of production for all of our products is fair, sustainable, and works toward solidarity.
Watch this video to learn more about the production process of our crafts and traditional fabrics:
What, how, and when we will use your contributions
At the time funding becomes available, the initial capital will be invested over a period of 6 to 7 months (until December) in learning preparation and production—paid with fair wages—in order to make our traditional fabrics.
The funds raised through Verkami are specifically allotted for:
• Production training
• Sewing machine and materials
• A space for production (which will also serve as a safe place for women at risk of gender violence
• Payment of fair wages to our women who are part of the Women’s Network
• Self-financing of the Women’s Network in order to continue our activities of political empowerment, human rights awareness, and the legal and psychological accompaniment of women who are navigating court cases of domestic violence complaints.
Therefore, beginning December 2016, we will begin selling our first run of products in Barcelona. With the income from this initial production, we will repeat the cycle and invest in our learning and production, that is, to achieve our goal: to become self-supported in order to continue our fight for equality and against the violence of women in the Department of San Marcos. We have the strength! We have the will! We only need your support: Strengthen the Thread.
During this phase of our crowdfunding campaign, we cannot, for now, show you our products we plan to sell as they have not yet been created. This is because they require an initial investment and also an advanced level of training—and because we will use traditional fabrics that are labor-intensive and expensive in the manufacturing process due to paying our workers a fair wage.
However, we are in the process of creating sample models that will not be for sale, but will be created in faith to those principles and objectives upheld by Strengthen the Thread. These are the products we will offer for some of the rewards for your donation, as detailed in the next section.
The rewards will be delivered in December of this year, 2016, coinciding with the end of the project. Everyone who supports us, regardless of the amount donated, will receive our monthly newsletter, which will enable you first hand to see the progress of our project. This will be sent out, until we have sold our first batch of products in December 2016, every Friday on the last week of each month. We would also love to mention your donations of any size on our Twitter and Facebook. We will try to mention your donations as soon as possible once we receive them.
Beyond the newsletter and your donation mentioned on social network, we will accept your donation with a reward beginning at an authentic photographic portrait of our members, through reward packs from Strengthen the Thread that include an unprecedented collection of traditional Mayan music composted by our friends, men and women, from Strengthen the Thread. On the right side of this page you will find detailed rewards from Verkami.
For all the artisan crafts we offer as rewards, you will receive a sample of our traditional fabric of your choice by the end of October. Each and every one of our fabrics are made by women from Stregthen the Thread, and follow a fair, supportive, and sustainable process.
Laptop case (as you choose)
We are Pau Dachs and Patricia Polo, two Catalans based in Guatemala for the last two years. We have both been working on projects in defense of human rights. Pau is a freelance journalist who creates written and audiovisual materials related to the fight against megaprojects, and Patricia is a political scientist who works in public policy regarding access to land and food sovereignty.
In these last two years, we have witnessed extreme poverty and systematic injustice in Guatemala, especially in the Department of San Marcos—where we live—the poorest department in the country. In this sense, it is the sector with highest risk of permanent exclusion of women and girls due to the unfair allocation of roles.
In our spare time, we work with the Women’s Network of San Marcos, and have the enthusiasm and commitment to continue this work in the present and future for the women of Guatemala through Strengthen the Thread.
Although two of us, Patricia and Pau, are the promotors of this crowdfunding campaign—as well as the coordinators of this project and the head of communications—we would also like to include the project coordinator of Strengthen the Tread Florinda Mejía (coordinator of the Women’s Network of San Marcos), Susana López (coordinator for Political Empowerment in Strengthens the Thread), and Amaya Espinoza (administrator of Strengthen the Thread).
More information at: