Guatemala: Weaving empowerment and happiness

Fighting poverty through weaving and handicrafts, Cojolya Association of Mayan Women Weavers and their women are stories of success. Women in difficult situations find courage, empowerment and happiness working with the organisation. Below is a story of a woman artisan, a role model for every woman who faced life’s difficulties head on and came out a winner.   

Andrea Sicay Mesía is a young woman who has faced tough family situations. Her father had problems with alcoholism and her mother suffered from an incurable disease until she died. From the time she was eleven, Andrea had to look for a job in order to earn money and support the family. Her mother died when she was 20 and she was left in charge of five siblings.

She has been part of the Cojolya Association since she was 15.  At 18 she became part of the formal and active members of the association. Andrea is one of the most active craftswomen in the production as she is involved with strong personal, familial and economics aims. Her specialty is to work with the first step of weaving, the preparation of the warp, "El Urdimbre".

The money she earns from her work is used to cover fixed expenses of the household (energy, water, daily consumption and education). One of the virtues of Andrea is the strong desire to support her brothers in their education, even though she did not have the opportunity to attend school, she does not want her siblings to go through the same situation. Her goal is to enable her brothers and sister to study, so that in the future they would have better opportunities and could support the family economically.

Over the years they have supported each other to cover educational expenses. Currently, three of her brothers are studying.  According to Andrea, it has been a very hard challenge and there was a moment when this seemed difficult and complicated to reach. There have been times when their own father discouraged them. Today Andrea is 32 and is part of the board of directors of the association as Vocal I, she is a weaver and weaving facilitator. Also she represents other artisans in the decision-making meetings. She is also working for the development of the women, in search of more sources of work to improve the quality of life for everyone in the association.

Each year, her level of participation in meetings, trainings and workshops is increasing. The effect that this generates in her life is positive.

Currently she works in warp, knitting and jasper. Also independently, she makes her own costumes and supports people to learn the art of weaving in the back strap loom and that generates more income for her.

Andrea has been an example for the other women in Cojolya who admire her desire to improve the quality of life of herself and family.


Story contributor: Cojolya Association of Mayan Women Weavers
For International Women's Day 2018 celebration