The number of female-headed households in the world is increasing as a result of civil wars, diseases and the migration of men to cities in search of paid work. The United Nations’ World Agriculture Report describes this as “the feminisation of agriculture” that is having profound and far-reaching effects, both positive and negative.


Apahua is a village in the Cotopaxi province, located 4.000 meters above sea level, on the Ecuadorean Cordillera of the Andes.

Poverty in these rural areas has devastating effects on nutrition, health, education, economical resources, life expectancy, and It is the women who suffer more from its effects.

That is the reason why the women are strategic to organize, moved by the triple discrimination they endure: discriminated against for being natives, for being women and for being poor.


In South America women associations often come together secretly, hidden from institutions, husbands, parents, brothers and children. Women groups that unite toward a common goal, attempting to for local and active units, that proactively promote their rights.

One of these associations was born in Apahua and it is called “Pakarimuy”.

The women meet to discuss projects underway or in development, to confront and find pragmatic solution to the problems they experience. They launched and manage a small agricultural and artisan business and they actively promote alphabetization of the elderly and the youngest among them.


In Kichwa, the local spoken tongue, Pakarimuy means “Dawn”. It was not chosen casually: this small women’s association can represent the beginning of a new day for the place and the community in which it operates.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive