For this edition of our Charitable Choices series we got to speak with Claudia Kitchen about Artistri Sud and the work they do supporting women’s empowerment in developing countries.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
We support women’s empowerment in developing countries through teaching entrepreneurship skills. By developing women’s capacity to leverage their existing assets for income generation, we help women create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Women in developing countries rank among the poorest and most marginalized people in the world, and we want to change that. The women we work with struggle to create income from their handicrafts, farming, food transformation, and other strategies, and this income is essential to sustain their families and communities.
When did you start/join it?
I started volunteering with Artistri Sud in January 2021 managing their social media. Now I handle all their communications platforms such as their newsletter, blog, and website.
What made you want to get involved?
Women’s empowerment is something that I’m extremely passionate about, and working with Artistri Sud allows me to have a direct impact on women’s lives. I love the sustainable approach that we have to our work — we aim to foster independence and empowerment, not dependency and reliance.
Artistri Sud also does a great job of working towards its mission. According to our 5-year impact report that took data from our programs in Bolivia (2013), Chile (2015-2017), and Vietnam (2018), 3 in 4 women who participated in our program increased their independent net income by 94%. Further, 95% increased their self-confidence and self-efficacy. Knowing that I’m supporting a project that’s making a huge impact makes contributing worth it.
What was the situation like when you started?
Although we’ve seen progress towards gender equality through the years, it’s important to note that COVID has disproportionately affected women. COVID-19 lockdowns are causing an increase in domestic violence due to money, health, and security stresses, movement restrictions, crowded homes, and reduced peer support. Many countries have seen more than a 25% increase in domestic violence reports and emergency calls. Further, economic impacts have hit women harder. COVID has amplified pre-existing structural disadvantages: Women generally save less and earn less, hold more insecure jobs, and are the heads of more single-parent households. Women have had a harder time absorbing the economic shocks that lockdowns have created. Essentially — when I came on board, it had been almost a year since COVID started negatively affecting the lives of women.
How has it changed since?
Canada has been successfully fighting COVID — we have some of the highest vaccination rates in the world — but the same can’t be said for the countries that we work in. Vietnam, where we’ve conducted our ASSET (Artistri Sud Social Entrepreneurship Training) Program in 2019 and 2020, had surging COVID cases, lockdowns, and forced factory shutdowns all through the summer that only started slowly subsiding in mid-October.
In the context of COVID restrictions, we’ve created a new hybrid learning model which is being launched in Vietnam from November 13th to the 19th. This program was created in the context of the pandemic, but there is a silver lining — it’s allowing our program to have more participants than ever and is expected to impact 150 women compared to the usual 80 – 90.
What more needs to be done?
To put it simply: a lot. We’re doing what we can, but women continue to be marginalized on a global scale.
How can our readers help?
To help, you can donate, or volunteer your time with us! We are always in need of extra hands on deck. To contribute your time and skills, get in touch with us at communications.artistrisud.org.
Do you have any events coming up?
In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, we are holding a Holiday Giving Campaign from November 1st to November 30th. After the program in Vietnam, to ensure the practical application of the newly gained knowledge, the women are taken through a one-year coaching program to ensure the practical application of the newly gained knowledge: a program for which we need your support. Also, when you give during our holiday campaign, your donation will be doubled thanks to our matching donors! Click here to donate.
Where can we follow you?