The culture of Mexico is one of the richest and most ancient in the western hemisphere. Once a Spanish colony, the country has a wealth of culture and history. Most of Mexico’s artistic production is still created through processes inherited from pre-Columbian civilizations including the Aztecs, Maya, and many other indigenous groups. Thirteen percent of Mexico’s national population is indigenous; this segment of the population speaks 62 languages. Clay pottery, vibrant designs, embroidered cotton garments, wool shawls, and outer garments with angular designs and colorful baskets and rugs are some of the common items associated with Mexican art.
Mexico, the second largest economy in Latin America with a population of approximately 112 million, still sees 46.2 percent of its population living in poverty, mainly in rural areas; while the percentage of people living under extreme poverty is 10.4 (11.7 million people). Ranking 61 out of 187 countries in the 2013 Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme, Mexico is a country with huge potential for accelerating economic growth.
largest economy in Latin America with a population of approximately 112 million
of its population still live in poverty
FROM MEXICO: MEET THE ARTISANS
The women artisans of Bordados Arcoiris come from six communities in Tenango, state of Hidalgo, Mexico. They embroider what their grandmothers taught them, and are proud to keep Tenango embroidery alive. With colorful string, the women draw the traditions of the Hidalgo people, illustrating everyday life, including their native plants and animals, as well as their crop cultivation.
Luchometik is a Tzotzil word meaning women brocading on a waist loom. It comes from a Mayan language spoken by the indigenous Tzotzil Mayan people in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Six women artisans founded Luchometik in 2013 after realizing that they all had the same desire to learn and were in search of opportunities improve their lives. They seek to learn about quality of product, color and design combinations, as well as sales and finance of their products. Since they began, more women have joined with the intention of learning every day.
Rose Ann Hall Designs employs artisans, many of whom have disabilities, to produce beautiful handmade candles and elegantly carved glassware. They emphasize on the use of recycled materials for each one of a kind product. By promoting traditional Mexican arts, Rose Ann Hall Designs provides income as well as an outlet for artistic expression to individuals with few other opportunities. Rose Ann Hall Designs takes great pride in the uniqueness of its artisans and products.
Macvilho was founded by a group of seven women artisans between the ages of 18 and 50 from the Mexican state of Chiapas. Through the creation of decorative accents and textiles, the artisans have preserved traditional Mayan techniques. Modern machinery is not used at any stage of the production cycle. Recently, the artisan co-operative has began integrating male artisans to focus on physically demanding tasks. The incorporation of men into the operation has improved the relationship between couples, strengthening communication, support, and understanding between men and women, thus promoting gender equity. Selling their goods to a global audience creates more employment opportunities for the artisans at Macvilho, allowing them to lead better lives supplemented by the additional income.
Vayu offers artisans the opportunity to earn a living by making various types of bags. They work to preserve the Mexican traditions of weaving rebozos; handwoven fabric with a beautiful pattern, which they use traditional looms to weave. Vayu is environmentally conscious and the artisans use local materials. Vayu also collaborates with the foundation Pro Captive Women, which enables women in different prisons to take sewing classes and to make Vayu bags, which allows them to earn money and prepare for their future beyond jail. By offering quality handmade Mexican products and supporting Mexican women, Vayu hopes to create a larger appreciation of Mexican culture, craft, and design.
Camaxtl is comprised of 13 artisans in San Bernardino Contla in Tlaxcala, Mexico. They masterfully weave beautiful serapes using traditional techniques and designs that originate from the community of Saltillo. Camaxtl helps these artisans find an outlet for their product and reach a broader audience. By making the serapes, the artisans are able to earn an income and preserve a cultural heritage that connects them to their roots.
In Oaxaca, Mexico, artisans working with social enterprise MZ create beautiful accessories and maintain a time-honored tradition. MZ is a short form for Manos Zapotecas, which translates to “hands of the Zapotecs,” a nod to the handmade nature of each piece. The artisans belong to one of the largest pre-Hispanic indigenous groups, the Zapotecs of Teotitlán del Valle. By working together and creating these pieces, the artisans are able to earn fair, living wages, regain financial autonomy, and support themselves and their families. Several are also able to work from home using family looms. MZ is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
In recent years, Mexico has experienced a dramatic surge in homicides, driven in large part by the violent struggle between and within powerful criminal organizations to control the drug trade and other lucrative illicit businesses such as human trafficking. Journalists, human rights defenders, and migrants are vulnerable to criminal attacks and rampant human rights violations. Efforts to reform and ‘fix’ the criminal justice system, which would address these problems, continue to progress at a slow pace.
Mexico ranks 84 out 135 countries in the Global Gender Gap. Although women and men are equal before the law, clear differences persist in terms of authority and privileges. Women still lag behind men in terms of their level of education, labor force participation, representation in leadership positions and in terms of wages. Moreover, violence, abuse and discrimination against women are still very much present in the country.