Lakshmi: “I can say I negotiate better than my husband"

"We didn't have value or respect in society".  Women have felt -and many others will continue to feel this way- through their whole life.  Their place was the home or the field.  There is no power to decide anything in a family structure where the father in-law, the husband, the brother in-law decide for everyone.  The landlord that gives them work in the field pays them half -sometimes less- than a man that does the same labor.  Besides, that money goes straight to the husband's pockets.  Through fair, or unfair deals, in many cases.  
But Lakshmi, 29 years old, can say she is independent.  In 2009 she received her first loan of the VFF for 13.000 rupees.  With that money she bought a female buffalo to start a business with her milk.  Two years later she will sell it for 30.000 rupees.  She obtained a great benefit and bought another female buffalo to continue selling milk from the animal.  
“Since 2009 she doesn't depend on anyone.  The money is mine and I use it in the ways I think are best.  I invest in the field, or buying another animal.  Now I am autonomous", says Lakhsmi.  
She is very intelligent woman and an entrepreneur.  Many other women also buy female buffalos.  But she has done a step forward.  With the money she makes from the milk, she buys fruit and vegetables that then she sells in her town.  "I can say I negotiate better than my husband", says proudly.  
Training for Entrepreneurs
Changes start to being felt.  Vicente Ferrer Foundation started working with women in 1982 with the objective of promoting gender equality.  In 1984 the first sangham (women association) was created and in 1994 the Development Fund for Women was implemented, through which credits are given to women to support them in the economical independence.  
Staff from the Foundation give talks in the sanghams, where, besides creating awareness of their rights, and the importance of health and education, they also offer business training.  
"The talks have trained us, they give us knowledge that we didn't have before.  After creating our own businesses now we are respected socially and economically.  Finally we are self sufficient", says Lakshmi.  
The loans, range from 10.000 to 30.000 rupees, are given to women with auto management skills.  The loans must be managed and backed by the members of the sangham.  
"The sangham has changed my life.  Before I was alone!  Now we know how important health and education are for our kids .  I have grown not only at a personal level but also at a professional level", highlights Lakshmi.  
Up to last April more than 100.000 women have benefitted from the Development Fund for Women since their creation.  These are small steps that help contribute to see the future with optimism.  "With the help of the Foundation I would like to start a milk business with 30 or 50 female buffaloes.  That way I will be able to give my son a dignified life, so he can be a teacher when he is older", concludes Lakshmi.  
Hasta el pasado mes de abril más de 100.000 mujeres se han beneficiado de los préstamos del Fondo de Desarrollo de la Mujer desde su creación. Son pequeños grandes pasos que contribuyen a ver el futuro con optimismo. “Con la ayuda de la Fundación quiero poner en marcha una lechería con 30 o 50 búfalas. Y con ella podré darle una vida digna a mi hijo, para que de mayor sea profesor”, termina Lakshmi.


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