The Women's Collective from Matagalpa in Nicaragua

The Women's Collective from Matagalpa could hardly be more versatile. It offers other women in remote villages a large number of support and educational opportunities. What make it so special are the participatory approach and a debating theatre, which has set a precedent.

They advise women in legal and health issues and initiate public debates on taboo subjects. They organize courses for illiterate people and encourage adolescents to stand up for their interests. They set up village libraries and train women in ecological farming. They offer poor women free medical consulting hours and pupils a scholarship programme called the "Collecivo de Mujeres de Matagalpa" from Nicaragua. For the last 25 years, the Women's Collective has been keeping an eye on the needs and hardship of the women living in the remote villages of the northern province of Matagalpa.

Networking and the domino effect

The position of Nicaraguan women has increasingly worsened over the last years. The total prohibition of abortion encroaches on their personal rights, domestic violence and cases of murder are increasing and often remain unpunished. At the heart of the collective's work is the wish to strengthen the social position of women, their abilities and awareness of their rights. For this reason, it is important that they network and pass on their knowledge. The organization therefore trains representatives of 40 communities in ecological farming so they can pass on the ecological methods of self-sufficiency to their neighbours.

Meanwhile, in 30 places women's groups have formed running social institutions in their own buildings and offering courses for illiterate people. Together, the women have also started to make their interests public and denounce discrimination.

Theatre with resonance

A particularly special element of the collective of Matagalpa is the debating theatre. In rural areas, in public places, in schools or in prisons the women perform their own theatre plays and open up for debate conflict subjects like violence, abortion and lack of drinking water. After every performance, a lively discussion takes place amongst the members of the audience. Last year, teachers and adolescents in several villages developed their own small theatre plays. The concept of the women of Matagalpa seems to pay off – through participation and individual initiative they move the world.