Ashoka Fellow


This profile was prepared when Lourdes Angulo Salazar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Lourdes is calling attention to and providing practical solutions for the serious health and education problems facing women in rural Mexico. Important in itself, this work is also an avenue that allows women to develop the self-confidence and income-generating capacity that in turn allows them to take on far wider and more influential roles in rural society and its organizations, traditionally an area left almost entirely to male leadership.
Lourdes, working in the rural areas of Jalisco state, very early after entering a community encourages the mothers to form a village health committee. Others, including men, are welcome; and the groups work with whatever other community groups exist. Women can't learn how to participate equally, let alone lead, in isolation. However, the focus is on helping women develop.
She helps the group get broad, base training that includes literacy, nutrition, and broad-based preventative and curative health care. This knowledge not only gives them an important, compelling agenda, but it gives them the sense of self-confidence with which to take their initiative.
She further builds this confidence by encouraging the more successful women to move on to train other women in turn, both within and beyond their own community. This process strengthens the messengers as much as it helps those they reach.
Lourdes is very conscious of the need to promote a wider awareness of the women's problem. To this end she is getting up a regional network of women's groups in the neighboring states of Colima, Jalisco and Michoacan, which will offer specific training at a local level and more general conferences and seminars at a regional and national level.
The several mutually reinforcing aspects of this approach, she thinks, together can overcome centuries of women being relegated to secondary roles and expected to remain mute. Her program seems to focus on health and adult education, but its ultimate aim is to give rural women a voice and an equal place in community leadership.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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