Since twenty years ago in Cotijuba Island, the most important of the 42 islands that are part of the archipelago of Belém, in Pará, a women’s association has shown that working together and empowering women can definitely bring positive results. The MMIB – Belém Islands Women’s Movement, today with 60 members, 40 of which are women, is already known throughout the region for bringing work, economic autonomy, independence and increased self-esteem for many women.
Since 1998, with the foundation of MMIB, the women of Cotijuba have succeeded in transforming the few local opportunities into a world of possibilities. The principles of union, associativism and group work were essential for this. “We never expected to get this far, to have access to so much knowledge as we have. And all we get is only because of the collective work”, celebrates Adriana Lima, a founding partner and current president of the Belém Islands Women’s Movement.
Today, MMIB develops several projects that range from the youth of the community, with computer’s basics lessons, to the third age, with Projeto Vida & Companhia, which offers leisure and healthy life activities for the elderly. A reading room with more than 300 books is also open for everyone and the movement has partnerships with large companies, such as Natura, for the commercialization of Priprioca (natural herb of the Amazon) and the Tucumã fruit.
“The women’s collective work has generated many good results for us, both jointly, within the association, and individually. As the group work is a women’s job, this leaves people with a very strong autonomy. It proves to all women that we have capacity. It doesn’t matter where we are, which is far from everything, but we can bring the world into this island”, explains Adriana.
One of the main projects of the association is the production of bio jewellery, made with seeds exclusively found in the island, and of handcrafted paper, made with banana fiber and priprioca. The handcraft group was born in 2009 and was the first great project generating employment and income for the movement.
More recently, community based tourism has become a great opportunity for income generation for these women and for social and for economic development in the region. Enthusiastic and always hospitable, they receive travelers to introduce the community, the place where they live, a little of their day-to-day activities and the association. The Belém Islands Women’s Movement is a partner of Vivejar and our host in the itinerary Secrets and Spices of the Amazon and these strong and independent women are responsible for making our trip through Pará much more special and authentic.
In addition to participating in cooking and bio jewellery workshops, travelers have the opportunity to stay in these women’s homes and get to know more about their achievements and the local feminine reality.