In Mexico, Women in Philanthropy Inspire Citizenship

Through employment and mentorship, mothers and daughters change the face of indigenous communities.

By Débora Montesinos, HIPGive contributor

How does philanthropy, and in particular female-led philanthropy, help create citizens? For women, could philanthropy be a way of participating in democracy?

These and other questions led the investigator Nathalie Ludec to study Semillas, a Mexican initiative that has revolutionized programs that support women.

Semillas Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer A.C., a nonprofit based in Mexico City, is managed through a tri-fold lens, including social class, gender, and ethnicity, and most of its beneficiaries belong to one of Mexico’s indigenous groups.

Photo: Semillas Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer
Photo: Semillas Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer

Ludec’s analysis highlights concepts pioneered by the Mexican anthropologist and feminist pioneer, Marta Lamas, who argues that feminine solidarity must be oriented away from a victim mentality and toward action.

Thus, in a group like Semillas, it’s possible to see “another face” of philanthropy, since both the philanthropists and the beneficiaries leave behind assistance, paternalism, and acceptance of the status quo to adopt self-determination and self-sufficiency.

This empowerment, manifested in different activities carried out by women in their own communities, strengthens their human rights and makes strides so that they’re no longer considered as one of Mexico’s marginalized groups.

Above all, Semillas seeks gender equality, and so it prioritizes programs that promote identity and socio-economic empowerment.

What does female-led philanthropy look like in your community?