Maria Elisa Villaescuza
This profile was prepared when Maria Elisa Villaescuza was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Despite the presence of unions and grassroots organizations representing the rights of women working in Mexican maquiladoras, Maria Elisa recognizes the inadequate technical expertise and poor integration of different groups' efforts as their greatest barrier to national success and categorical impact. She has developed a core code of conduct and ethics in the treatment of maquiladora workers that she conveys to labor rights activists, union leaders, and civil society professionals through educational workshops and seminars. The members of this growing sector launch new strategies for citizen sector protection, mobilization of advocacy campaigns, and public policy change as a result of more effective communication, idea sharing, and reflection on past efforts. By bringing the disparate groups together, Maria Elisa builds a network of service providers unified around a code of conduct that is more accessible to workers and beneficial to the labor rights movement in Mexico and around the world.