Featured artist, Asunta Pelaez
After being diagnosed with a debilitating illness, this Peruvian artisan found something that no self-help book could offer. It gave her a thousand reasons to live.
Through her intricate hand-painted glass pieces, Asunta Pelaez tells a story about overcoming life's most difficult challenges. Through her role as a female entrepreneur, she transforms global perspectives about the powerful place of women in the world of business.
Mirian embodies the Women's Empowerment badge for the strength she has shown in the face of atrocity. As the survivor of a terrible incident of sexual abuse, Mirian continues to inspire us with her resilience. As a young girl, she learned the art of hand weaving from her mother and prides herself on preserving this ancient tradition and proudly passing it on to her children.
From El Salvador
As a single mother who struggled to pay her bills, Marisol was once on the verge of homelessness with her young daughter. Today, she supports her daughter's education, gives back to her community, and employs 16 people, many of whom might struggle to find jobs elsewhere.
Mary is no stranger to life's serious difficulties, but she faces it all with courage. After a 17 hour brain surgery, Mary was forced to confront the painful reality of being a single parent after her husband left her and her children. In the face of these significant challenges, Mary has been able to provide for her family through her art. She is an amazing example of women's empowerment.
Anita is an important representative of the Women's Empowerment badge, in part because her struggle is still ongoing. Forced to marry a man she didn't love, Anita has endured a lifetime of belittling taunts from her husband. Although he mocks her ceramic work, she continues to produce art in hopes that she may one day have the financial stability to leave him. She is a reminder that women's empowerment is not a simple destination but a continuous process.
Alejandra suffers from debilitating fibromyalgia yet still managed to RUN A MARATHON! While Alejandra experiences extreme pain on a daily basis, she never lets it hold her back. A fervent supporter of female empowerment, Alejandra pays it forward by employing other women, who she pays fair wages so that they can support themselves and their families.
For years, Diana suffered physical, verbal, and psychological abuse from her husband. He refused to provide any financial support for her or her children for eight years of their marriage. Fearing for her life, Diana fled the house one day with only the clothes she was wearing. To this day, she fights to regain custody of her children in hopes that she can provide them a better life. Of her own pain, she says, "It doesn't matter how big or difficult the challenge is, what matters is how we take care of it, get up, and survive."
Zandra Lorena Sajbin
From a humbled artist to a respected member of her community, Zandra captures the spirit of the Women's Empowerment badge. After the death of her husband in 2017, Zandra knew that she would need to provide for her three children. She has made their education her top priority and plans to send each of them to university. She has also welcomed six employees into her workshop, who she proudly supports with fair wages.
Today, Seji is a strong female figure that heads a successful carving workshop. But in the days after her husband died, this future was far from guaranteed. With the carving skills she learned from her husband, Seji embraced her new reality with determination and commitment. As a result, she has not only been able to provide for her son, but now employs three other female artisans in her workshop.
Rituu is a powerful woman who learned the fine jewelry-making traditions of her husband's family and turned them into a thriving workshop. In spite of the crippling effects of osteoporosis and other bone ailments, Rituu works through her pain and shares her knowledge with others. Through the great success of her business, she has been able to hire a number of other artisans, most of whom are women.
An artist who creates from the heart, Teresita has turned a dangerous illness into a source of strength and positivity. After the birth of her first child, Teresita was diagnosed with cancer. While her medical treatments aided in her recovery, she attributes her survival to laughter and her ability to make art. She infuses each piece with her love of life, her positive attitude, and her appreciation for the time she has been given. She is an inspiration to all cancer survivors, mothers, and women worldwide.
Sometimes women's empowerment is revealed not on the front lines, but in the quiet, intimate commitments we make to the people we love. Siranya embraces this every day as she works hard to provide an education for her two children. While school fees put a financial burden on Siranya and her husband, they are deeply committed to creating a better future for their children.
A true advocate for human rights and gender equality, Chinni has transformed thousands of lives and uplifted her community. With her fair trade workshop, which she began "with the sole aim of empowering women in the area," Chinni has helped over 50 women develop the skills they need to earn a sustainable income. Always ambitious to do more, Chinni also runs a local school that provides free education, books, uniforms and daily meals to over 500 students in India.