Marilú Martens

National director of
CARE Peru

Our purpose is to live in a safe, inclusive and egalitarian country, where citizenships’ rights and obligations are fulfilled and all people have access to the same opportunities. This is the mission we work for day by day, year after year. 

Although the health emergency has exposed and exacerbated many problems and gaps that we already previously carried, such as low educational quality and economic inequality, it has, in turn, taught us that we can achieve great changes with solidarity, commitment and hard work. All sectors’ coordinated work is essential to get out of crisis situations and get back on track towards prosperity, equality and sustained growth. 

We have been working in Peru for more than 50 years on initiatives for the development of people in vulnerable situations, always putting girls, adolescents and women at the center of our efforts, because we know that as long as gender inequality exists, we will not be able to eradicate poverty and achieve social justice. Along this time, we have implemented more than 1,000 projects with various social objectives: educational quality improvement, economic empowerment of women, access to health services, food security, access to water, and risk and emergency management. 

With all these actions we have managed to have a positive impact on thousands of Peruvians who have a new opportunity to grow today. At the same time, we have contributed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which always guide our work: we create replicable and sustainable models in order to achieve these global goals and thus motivate social change. 

Our projects

Faced with the problem of school dropout, low educational quality and teenage pregnancy, we have been working on the Girls with Opportunities program since 2016. This initiative contributes to SDGs 4 and 5 (quality education and gender equality). According to the Ministry of Education, more than 300,000 students stopped going to school in 2020. School dropout mainly affects students in rural areas and particularly girls and adolescents, who often interrupt their studies due to early pregnancy. The project trains secondary school adolescents from rural areas in socio-emotional skills, economic empowerment, and comprehensive sexual education. We thus ensure that they finish their studies at the appropriate age and with a life plan. To date, there are already more than 20,000 empowered fourth and fifth graders and more than 46 educational institutions reached. 

On the other hand, thanks to the project We Learn +, We Grow and Always Undertake Ventures, implemented by the Ministry of Education, we had the opportunity to work in rural schools in the country, which had been severely affected during the pandemic. After suspension of face-to-face classes, the project delivered 2,288 tablets with interactive, innovative and educational content to students in intervention areas to promote access to inclusive quality education with equal opportunities in the lockdown context. 

Through this initiative, thousands of girls and boys from first to sixth grade in rural areas have accessed educational content and interactive sessions in Communication, Mathematics and other curricular subjects. Additionally, the project’s students have been closely coached by community agents. They have led the development of distance education, strengthening students’ and teachers’ skills. 

In the face of climate change and the constant risk around natural events, our Glaciers+ project contributed to SDG 13 (climate action) by focusing on improving the capacity for comprehensive adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the face of glacier retreat in Peru, and guaranteeing sustainability. 

On the other hand, with the She Feeds the World project, we contribute to SDG 2 (zero hunger) by improving food security and nutrition of families in vulnerable situations. To date, 4,181 producer households have been strengthened with productive technical training and business skills. In addition, 80 women farmers have been trained in soil management (including soil analysis) and analytical methodologies. 

We created the Ignite program for women entrepreneurs who daily contribute to the country’s economic development. This program contributes to SDGs 5, 8 and 10 (gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and reduction of inequalities) through job creation, financial resilience and improved well-being of female microentrepreneurs’ families. Thus, we seek to lower the barriers they face every day to boost their businesses. The initiative is present in 25 regions of the country and has enabled more than 15,000 businesswomen to receive credits and trained more than 2,398 are in financial education, business skills and soft skills. 

All these programs show us that working for women is also working for the development of their communities and families. Despite earning less than men, women reinvest 90% of their income back into their families and communities, up to 60 percentage points more than men, according to the OECD. We will continue to work for and with them because they have the right to live in a safe country that respects their rights and gives them the opportunities and education they need. 

Acknowledgments

Every effort has its reward and this has not only been reflected in the large number of participants in each implemented program, but also in the various acknowledgments we received last year: we obtained the 2021 Business Creativity Award from the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences (UPC) for our Girls with Opportunities project and the SCALE Green Creative Adaptation Award for the project “Strengthening Madre de Dios Indigenous Communities and Organizations for Managing Sustainable Local Development Processes and for the Effective Defense of Their Rights.” The implementation of this initiative allowed native communities of the Amarakaeri communal reserve to improve their economic income and their capacities in territorial governance. 

In addition to this, we were finalists in the 2021 Acknowledgment of  SDGs in Peru with our initiatives Get Connected, Girls with Opportunities, Together Against Zika and Glaciers+. Without a doubt, these achievements motivate us and reaffirm our commitment to continue working for the most vulnerable people in the country. 

I want to thank the entire CARE Peru team, as well as our allies and the organizations that support our work. Without you none of this would be possible. With your commitment and passion we can make each goal a reality and take great steps towards a more equitable and fair country.  I also want to thank each and every one of the participants in the programs that we promote because their patience, tenacity, effort and daily struggle, make Peru progress towards sustainable development and equality. Let us continue working and contributing, from our possibilities, to the construction of a fairer, more equitable and safer country for all. 

Marilú Martens

National director of CARE Peru