Working with Indigenous Artisan Women in Mexico

by Patricia Barroso on Mar 08, 2017

For the past two years, C&A Foundation has been partnering with C&A to celebrate women through a campaign called Inspiring Women. Over a period of a few weeks each year, C&A colleagues are encouraged to share stories of the women that have inspired them. For each story shared, C&A Foundation makes a EUR 10 donation to a women's charity.

In 2016, more than 8,000 C&A colleagues in Mexico and Brazil participated in the campaign, raising a total of EUR 398,000 for 15 organisations; one of them was the Mexican organisation Red Niu Matat Napawika.

For over 10 years, Red Niu Matat Napawika has supported around 3,000 indigenous artisan women from 12 Mexican states, teaching them business skills such as accounting, administration and quality control. This has enabled them to access large-scale national and international markets, and get a fair price for their traditional textile craftsmanship.

With the funds raised over the past two years of Inspiring Women, Red Niu Matat Napawika provided training to 62 artisan women from five communities of the Chamula region in Chiapas, who work making traditional textiles using a waist loom technique.

They also created a “raw material fund,” to be able to buy thread and fabric in bulk. That allowed the artisans to have a reliable and constant supply of inputs at better prices, not only improving their businesses but also allowing them to balance work and home life better.

María Hernández Hernández, an artisan programme participant explains: “I've always been an artisan. But before I joined Red Niu Matat Napawika I used to work independently. I earned very little to support my family, so I also had to work in the fields. Every time I needed material, I had to travel miles to get it; sometimes I couldn't find what I needed and my clients were not satisfied because the colour was not what they had asked for. So, despite my hard work, they didn't buy my products.”

“Since I began working with the association, I have full-time, stable work and income. I can contribute to supporting my parents and siblings. We eat better, we have better clothes and we were even able to improve our house.”

The women working with Red Niu Matat Napawika especially appreciate the time they can now spend with their families and children. “I also know what it means to be a mother and a wife, and not have time to be with your family because of the heavy workload we have, especially in a community where a woman is considered useless if she doesn't bring in money," points out Juana Ruiz Pérez, community promoter of Red Niu Matat Napawika. “Thanks to this programme, women realise how valuable they are as individuals, they have learned to work together, to grow their business and develop new skills."

Thanks to the Inspiring Women campaign, the C&A business in Mexico got to know Red Niu Matat Napawika and the work that the women are doing and they recently joined effort to encourage their craft.

In honour of Women's Day and during the month of March, C&A Mexico will launch a collection of women's denim shorts that integrates the textiles created by these indigenous communities.

These pieces, that combine traditional and modern, will be available as of the first week of March in every C&A store in the country.

This partnership is a great example of how, when everyone comes together, fashion can be a force for good.

“Thanks to this programme, women realise how valuable they are as individuals, they have learned to work together, to grow their business and develop new skills.”

community promoter of Red Niu Matat Napawika Juana Ruiz Pérez