Tuesday Program: Women’s Empowerment and Economic Autonomy in Mexico and Central America

Event Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Event Time: 11:00 am 

Guest Speakers: Gilda Larios, Katherine Wojtan

The women of Mexico and Central America face daily challenges – they are survivors of war and many face violence from gangs and domestic abuse. The women do not have access to traditional means of making money. They live primarily in rural areas and many have only an elementary education; some are illiterate. In El Salvador especially, migration is changing social and family structures, leaving many women to raise families alone. For rural women, the lack of infrastructure and basic services like transportation affects health and business alike. Currently countries face a variety of challenges related to political unrest, climate change and water privatization.

Gilda Larios of Mary’s Pence will discuss the challenges these women face, and how they cope. Gilda is the Team Lead for the Mary’s Pence ESPERA program in Mexico and Central America. She is from Mexico City, has been engaged with Central America since the 1980s and 1990s when she was very deeply involved in the refugee and migration issues caused by armed conflicts in Central America. Gilda has been working with and supporting women in the region ever since. She co-founded Women’s Income Generation and Empowerment, an organization working on women’s savings and loans in Mexico.

Gilda will be joined by Katherine Wojtan, the Executive Director of Mary’s Pence. Katherine brings with her a background in organization development in corporate settings, and peace and nonviolence organizing as an avocation. She travels with Gilda annually to visit the ESPERA partners and hear about their lives and their work. ESPERA has eight partner groups in Mexico and Central America, and involves more than 1000 women investing in small businesses with their locally owned community lending pool. Mary’s Pence provides funding and capacity building to our partners.


The Tuesday Program is a Club tradition to educate, inspire and entertain our Members and guests. Coffee and tea are served at 10:30 am in the Lounge, followed by a Guest Speaker in the Ballroom at 11:00 am and lunch in the Dining Room at 12:00 pm. The cost for lunch is $18.00 plus tax and service charge ($23.28, inclusive of tax and service). Reservations are not necessary.

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