This International Women’s Day meet Paulina Chiroy. Mother, daughter, sister, friend, wife. At 35 years old, Paulina Chiroy has worked with Mercado Global since 2008. As a partner artisan, Paulina has grown into a respected leader in her cooperative, La Fe, and has become a role model for those around her.

La Fe is a rural, indigenous community in the department of Sololá in the highlands of Guatemala. Within the cooperative, Paulina works alongside four of her sisters, as well as her mother, three aunts and sister-in-law. The Chiroy women are pillars of strength and resilience for one another and their communities.

Paulina’s six-year old daughter, Jessica Magdalena, is now in primary school. Her favorite subject is art. Many indigenous children in the highlands of Guatemala are forced to forego school to help their parents sell handicrafts in local markets, especially young girls. Using income earned through Mercado Global sales orders, Paulina has been able to ensure that Jessica stays in school and continues to do what she loves: paint and draw.

Aside from earning money for her family, Paulina also values the lessons learned through Mercado Global’s Community-Based Education Program that she can share with Jessica. Trainings focus on nutrition and women’s health, business management and financial literacy, and women’s leadership and self-esteem. Paulina most enjoys trainings focused on the benefits of personal saving accounts and health. When she was pregnant with her daughter Jessica, Paulina was able to use the lessons she learned from the trainings to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and birth. She continues to share important lessons on self-esteem with her daughter as she grows up. Supported by her husband, Paulina is proud to partake in trainings that help her learn how to contribute to her family’s growth and expenditures, and be a positive role model for Jessica.

Paulina is also a participant and graduate student of Mercado Global’s microcredit program, which distributes industrial sewing machines to artisans after intensive technical trainings. This IWD, our #WomenForward campaign will provide advanced sewing skills training and materials to partner artisans like Paulina in 2 cooperatives in the highlands of Guatemala. By learning how to sew with industrial sewing machines artisans can work more efficiently and craft higher-quality products for our retail partners, providing life-changing work opportunities to women that need it most.

Through this microcredit distribution program, Paulina purchased a sewing machine on loan, which she has worked to pay back over time through her own business ventures and Mercado Global orders. The ability to work three times faster than a traditional sewing machine has opened unprecedented opportunities for Paulina and this year she will finish paying off her loan.

Every day, Mercado Global opens doors for women like Paulina and we are proud to stand with them this International Women’s Day. We invite you to also honor rural indigenous women in Guatemala and become part of Paulina and so many other women’s story. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, "No industry or country can reach its full potential, until all women reach their full potential.”

To donate and learn more about #WomenForward, visit our Crowdrise page here >>