woman sitting on the grass

Pro Mujer: supporting healthier lives in Latin America

Rosa is a 42-year old mother of three children, living in the city of Puno in Peru. A decade ago, she joined the Latin American women’s development organisation Pro Mujer (which means “pro women” in Spanish). At the time, Rosa was working as a house cleaner – earning around £25 a month. Thanks to a small loan and business training from Pro Mujer, Rosa was able to invest in her new cake business. Today, she earns around £200 a month.

As well as business training, Pro Mujer also held health workshops across the region. But, Rosa hadn’t give them much importance, until one day that all changed.

“During a Pro Mujer health campaign, I was diagnosed with advanced cancer” Rosa said. “I needed to have an operation immediately and it was going to cost £625. I stopped working thinking that it was all going to be quick, but it wasn’t. Thanks to the savings I built up over the years, I was able to cover my household expenses and part of my operation. Today, I feel good and I continue to do my health check-ups – more than anything for my children because they still need me.”

The obstacles Rosa faced are all too common for women in Latin America. Since 2009, we have been working with Pro Mujer, helping women like Rosa lift themselves and their families out of poverty, and giving them access to high-quality, low-cost healthcare, often for the first time.

Founded by two school teachers in 1990, Pro Mujer started out as a small project in El Alto, Bolivia offering women the chance to develop invaluable life skills in business, health and leadership. Since then, the non-profit development organisation has given more than £700 million pounds in small loans. It has also provided nearly 2 million women with vital access to financial services, preventative healthcare, and business and empowerment training. Today Pro Mujer works across five countries in the region.

Pro Mujer’s health services are focused on helping to detect and prevent chronic diseases such as breast and cervical cancers, diabetes and heart disease. In recent years, these diseases have become more common in Latin America and disproportionately affect the women that Pro Mujer serves.

  • 100,000

    In 2014 alone, through its partnership with GSK, Pro Mujer reached more than 100,000 women in Argentina, Mexico and Peru with health services.

Claire Hitchcock, community partnerships director in our global health programmes team, explains how our partnership with Pro Mujer fits with our belief that healthy lives and livelihoods are interlinked. “If a woman is healthy, she is better able to work and prosper; this in turn means that her children are more likely to thrive. By providing access to finance, healthcare and education, Pro Mujer gives more families the chance to flourish.”

Leila Freedman, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships for Pro Mujer added: “The barriers to economic empowerment, access to health and equality for women are complex and require a multidimensional approach. Our long-standing collaboration is an example of how business and civil society can work together to produce strategic, effective and sustainable solutions to pressing social issues that impact us all. We look forward to our continued relationship with GSK to help unlock the power of women so they can transform their lives and those of their families.”

We look forward to our continued relationship with GSK to help unlock the power of women so they can transform their lives and those of their families.

Building on the partnership’s success, we are working with Pro Mujer to strengthen and expand its operations in Latin America over the next three years. In Peru, Pro Mujer aims to reach up to 45,000 women with new services such as dental care by the end of 2018. In Argentina, its goal is to provide 9,000 women with expanded health education and clinical services. These programmes are designed to give women like Rosa and their families the knowledge and support they need to live healthier lives.

“GSK’s support will help us streamline our clinic operations and build new health spaces so that we can provide our clients with greater access to critical clinical services. It will also help us promote health education and the adoption of healthier behaviours” said Denise Ferreyra, Country Director for Pro Mujer Argentina. “It will also provide us with the resources we need to better understand and share the lessons learned from our work.”