“In 2020 we helped 177 girls by giving out $90,000 USD in scholarships. We are proud to have had 21 secondaria, 35 prepatoria and 17 university students graduate from our program in 2020. Thirty of our prepa (high school) graduates have indicated a desire to go on to university most of whom have a 9-point grade average or better.”
Educating Girls is the Key to Ending Poverty
The objective of Mujeres en Cambio is to foster the independence, education and enhanced quality of life of impoverished rural women and girls in the areas surrounding San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. Our aim is to recognize, honor and empower these women, supporting them to obtain an education or to begin or continue self-sustaining projects that benefit them and their families.
Mujeres en Cambio (MeC), a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1995 by a small group of women—both American expatriates and Mexican citizens—who were concerned about the plight of the impoverished women in the rural communities (campo) surrounding San Miguel de Allende. These founders recognized that improving the educational prospects for rural women and teaching them skills that would enable them to earn an income was one of the surest ways to provide them with a pathway to an improved future. This led to our current Scholarship Program and the Rug Hook Project.
The Scholarship Program: Improving the Educational Prospects for Rural Women
The founders’ primary objective was to provide financial assistance to young girls in the rural communities surrounding San Miguel who would not otherwise be able to continue their education. In Mexico, education is free only through the 6th grade. For education beyond that level, students are required to pay for inscription fees, books, school supplies, exams, transportation, contributions to school maintenance supplies, school uniforms and shoes. These expenditures often are too costly for many families and as a result, their children drop out of school. A scholarship from Mujeres en Cambio makes it possible for a girl who is an excellent student and maintains a high GPA to continue her education—from junior high school (secundaria) through senior high school (preparatoria) and through university. Our first scholarships were awarded to seven very deserving young girls in 1995.
The Scholarship program has grown exponentially since those early days. For the 2018-2019 school year, MeC granted 131 scholarships to girls in secundaria and preparatoria at an annual cost per student of $5,500 pesos, and granted 56 scholarships to university students at an annual cost per student of $20,500 pesos. While this amount does not cover all school costs, it is critical in helping a student reach her educational goals. This opportunity will enhance her quality of life and capacity for independence.
The Rug-Hook Project: Teaching Skills to Earn Incomes
One of MeC’s early projects included teaching embroidery classes in San Miguel to rural women. Many of these women had to travel a great distance from remote villages to attend classes, often forfeiting a day’s work in the fields or the income from selling their home-grown produce. Those women who were able to attend at least a few classes came from one village—Agustin Gonzales. After it was suggested that hooked rugs might be a more distinctive and successful craft, classes in rug hooking began in Agustin Gonzales.This was the genesis of the Rug Hook Project and Las Rancheritas.