Strengthening Livelihoods and Economic Inclusion of Women in La Carpio, San Jose
Related Sustainable Development Goals and Global Compact for Migration Objectives
In Costa Rica, IOM and UNDP worked jointly at the country level in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of San Jose, called la Carpio, inhabited mostly by Nicaraguan and Costa Rican migrants. Many Nicaraguan migrants leave for Costa Rica in search of better opportunities, careers that align with their goals, better education and safer environments in which to raise their families. Yet they do not always find better work conditions abroad, despite these aspirations. Many end up living in La Caprio, an informal settlement located on the western limits of the capital city San Jose, and continue to endure structural, widespread challenges such as poverty, inequality and high unemployment which contribute to enduring instability, whilst the absence of law enforcement and justice systems exacerbate the insecurity in the area.
The 30,000 Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans who live in this community were experiencing daily the impact of development and mobility failures even before the pandemic hit. Since COVID-19, La Caprio’s limited infrastructure has been stressed to provide for the needs of new residents while the employment and economic situation throughout the country worsened. An already poor socio-economic situation in La Carpio worsened considerably, and the UN as well as government partners identified it as a priority neighborhood for support.
IOM and UNDP have already been working in this area since 2019, on various activities aiming to promote social cohesion, social protection and the integration of migrants, in alignment with United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Costa Rica 2018-2022. To address the growing socio-economic crisis brought about by the pandemic, the two organizations knew that broader and more concerted effort was needed immediately, and that joined up approaches were imperative to bring the biggest impact to those who needed it the most.
Through the Seed Funding Initiative, IOM and UNDP's goal was to empower the La Caprio community by offering them an opportunity to gain control over their careers and livelihoods. The partnership also aimed to bring the neighborhood closer together and reinforce solidarity and “social cohesion” - specifically through empowering and enabling women to have more control over their finances and careers.
IOM and UNDP carried out 3 activities by working with and learning from the SIFAIS Foundation (Sistema de Formación Artística para la Inclusión Social), a local NGO that already had deep ties and trust within the community, through training and courses such as baking, sewing, childcare. The main activities carried out thanks to the Seed-Funding Initiative were:
- Empower women in the community as small business owners through new training and courses on hairdressing and entrepreneurial skills.
- Create a new state-of-the art hairdressing training center at SIFAIS’ “Cueva de Luz” facility, complete with the necessary equipment at the students’ disposal. This center allows for the training to be sustainable over the long term and ensures this local service is owned by community members themselves, so it fits their needs and long-term goals.
- Design a didactic toolkit for women’s empowerment, which is now available for anyone wishing to benefit from it.
Key successes or innovative factors, good practices and lessons learned (if available)
The training program was received by the community with enthusiasm. Already, 15 students are participating in the newly established hairdressing skills course for a period of 10 months and 50 community members learned about key elements to promote their business plan and boost their production, as well as personal skills related to understanding and defending their rights, gender equality and women´s economic empowerment. Out of the 50 participants, 20 have already completed their courses and are service providers to other companies.
This initiative reminds us that sometimes all people need is an opportunity to make a change. La Caprio is undoubtedly not the only neighborhood that has faced extreme hardships caused by the pandemic and is a great example of how a small-scale project can catalyze long term change for individuals, neighborhoods, and eventually, entire countries.
IOM and UNDP both acknowledged that the good partnership they developed together and with local community organizations over years of harmonious work was fundamental for this joint initiative, and they both recognized that working together and leaning on the partners’ expertise and capacities is critical for creating lasting, systematic change at the community level. A joint approach such as this one is integral to achieving the SDGs, more specifically reducing poverty, ensuring decent work, minimizing inequalities, contributing to sustainable communities and cities, and working in partnership. It also contributes to achieving the Global Compact for Migration's objectives, such as ensuring safe and dignified employment, empowering migrants and societies to realize full inclusion and social cohesion, and migrants' skills development and training.
Local NGOs, migrant associations, migrant communities, women