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Drowning in Poverty

Her dark, rough face hardened by the suffering, shows no feelings; her eyes are not begging, but her hands are extended to receive coins; she does not talk to anyone: she only speaks quechua. Wara walks around the streets of different cities every year in school vacation, wearing her axo, a long black dress with big flowers in the hem, her small white wool hat and her braided hair.

Being indigenous is different than being a peasant (campesino) in Bolivia. Indigenous means poorer, with darker skin and with special dresses. She comes from one of ten indigenous communities in Potosí, Bolivia, South America, a high plateau, cold place. Men send groups of women to ‘work’ in this infamous situation while they wait for the money in the communities. This has become women’s business.

Mendicity constitutes a crude phenomenon that affects states following social and economical models that do not guarantee life quality for all people. There are beggars everywhere, including Cuba and China, countries with a socialist model which in theory eliminates mendicity. Ideologies have not managed to change this reality.

In this context, mendicity is only a symptom that shows how human development indexes are not well, as millions of beggars walk around the streets, showing off humanity’s misery.

Why do women accept this task? Social scientists have unraveled the reasons- Their findings include patriarchal schemes, occidental influence, racism and discrimination, while for the remedies, they recommend the usual: more government intervention through productive projects for men and women to increase their income. The present government has no results: after four years in office, beggar numbers augment.

My research found that natives living in their original communities have a different approach to life. When a child falls down and cries, for example, they will spank her, as she is not found to be brave enough to hold the tears. This is a good example of the survival strategy working. This is the reason why government and NGO interventions don’t really work in the long run. Their survival strategy makes them frail as they fight between themselves for resources, they don’t cooperate to improve the ecosystem's capacity to hold them, and more importantly, they are not supportive of their young siblings.

According to my theory of the Ecology of Societies, there are two different types of survival strategies: k and r. Some characteristics of the k strategy include low reproductive rate, low migration and long generational time (please refer to http://www.worldpulse.com/node/12866 for a complete description). Women in Potosí are immersed into an r strategy of survival, which includes a high reproductive rate (each family has four kids or more, which is highest rate in the country), high migration (one out two citizens have migrated), and short generational time (girls have their first baby in their early teens), and the most important trait for women: intra specific competition, which means the fight for resources takes place within their society, leading to endless disputes for any resource.

The Ecology of Societies is indeed a way of looking at poverty and wealth from the ecological point of view, where markets are part of the ecosystem, sustained by the species that live in it, money then, is one more resource that serves to sustain the species of the ecosystem, in complete interrelation. All resources are equally important.

Interestingly enough, Wara’s community fulfills all the requirements of the r strategy! What does this mean? Species that live within the k strategy, lead more stable lives, while the ones in r strategy tend to rely mainly in environmental conditions to survive. Let’s see some examples: rhinoceros live in a k strategy, while the dandelions live an r strategy. Both have survived for centuries, but a man could not step on the first and kill it, while it is possible that anyone could easily kill the dandelion.

k strategy species also tend to remain in one place, an ecosystem that provides for them, and tend to maintain their number in relation to the capacity of the ecosystem to sustain them. r strategy species tend to decrease their number, as they do not relate their lives to the capacity the ecosystem has to maintain them.

In this sense, Wara comes from a community that does not provide support for them part and parcel. Their ecosystem is not capable of holding them. The interaction between Wara’s community and the world will not take place in advantage unless there is a change in their survival strategy, leading to make the ecosystem’s capacity to hold the people, a sustainable one. What would it take to make it sustainable? First, a change in the interaction within the community is a must: intra specific competition must stop, this means people must not fight for resources, they must cooperate to get them.

The fear of change must be carefully addressed. A team of specialists must come to the rescue, including an ecologist, a psychologist, a business administrator and a banker. The main work needs to be in the communities’ hands, but they need to understand their reality first.

A change in the survival strategy means that women, just like men, the market, the professionals, the labor, the forest, or the land, will be measured with the same measuring rod. All are equally important, and they are interrelated through specific terms and conditions that are mathematically recognizable.

Poverty gets bigger as the ecosystem capacity to hold women lessens. We need to make this relation work in pro of women. That is the change we need: ecosystems that CAN support the number of women in their sites. This means resources must be carefully assessed in order to nurture the population therein.

This is a new kind of equality. “We are one with nature”, stops being a phrase, and starts being part of a plan to make the changes necessary to create a better holding capacity of the ecosystem itself. Women will benefit most from this approach, as they are the poorest in all societies.

Acknowledging and studying the ecological relationship of the community with the environment, the resources and the money needed to improve their lives are the body of the intervention. Equality is not a word, but a praxis. Both the specialists and the community and its leaders must get out of the box to work together.

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Comments

laura_gamboa's picture

Very interesting

Hello!
I think is wonderful what you wrote. You should publish it! You give this problem another perspective. I think it´s important to look to the situation from different angles and not try to "victimize" the indigenous communities. Everywhere in the world where these communities live, society isolate them, ignore them...just as in Mexico. After the independence and the expulsion of the Spaniards, still on the 21st century, indigenous communities remain in poverty, lack of many services and benefits and most people in Mexico label them as lazy, ignorants, poors, etc....when they are not that. They have a different culture, a different way of being, a different way of thinking and they have something that rest of us don´t have, that is the relationshiop with nature and earth. These people understand our environmental problems better than us.
I liked very much what you wrote. Your theory is very ineteresting. Perhaps inside it, we can find a lot of solutions to this type of problems.
Congratulations and best of luck!!

Hugs!

jap21's picture

Thank you Laura

I know that this theory is very new, in fact, I am the only one involved in it for now, I thought about it and wrote a book about it some years ago, but didn't have the guts to publish it. This is the first time it goes into public eye. So, welcome to the world premiere!

I will keep posting about this, so that more people can begin talking about it, and we can make it big - together.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

enDhruva's picture

A new way to look at this issue

I think what you are offering is very interesting indeed! I found myself a little confused in parts and might suggest editing it a bit so that it flows more if you are going to publish it. However, the content is very interesting and eye-opening and it makes me want to know more.....which is always a good thing!!

I think you should definitely keep at it Jackie!!! Go Go GO!!!! :-)

Blessings,
Erin

jap21's picture

Hi Erin

We need to look at this as something so new, that it needs to be read about at least three times to be understood. I know our brains usually function that way: recycle three times to remember the basics, recycle another three to learn about it, recycle yet another three to start using it.

So, we have a long way to go before it is understood and accepted by a wide range of people. Let's see what we can do to help speed up the process.

Thanks for your comment, it makes me want to go on!

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

jap21's picture

Thanks Erin

I really need to know that people are open to this new vision. It fills my heart with joy to receive the support of this beautiful community in this road.

Hugs and love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

JaniceW's picture

Interesting

Jackie, I am intrigued with this idea and it makes perfect sense in terms of the interactions between societies/communities and the necessary conditions for existence in the environment to which they have adapted. In order for the social structure to maintain stability and grow, the societies/communities must behave in a way that ensures a type of equilibrium. I'm interested to read more as this just touches the surface of your ideas and vision. I look forward to reading your book. Best,
Janice

jap21's picture

Yes, I intend to do it

Although my hand and my voice tremble when I think of publishing the book with the whole theory, I know I must. It is just that sometimes I feel like as I have not gone to universities like Harvard or Cambridge, my voice is worth a lot less. I guess I shouldn't be so shy. But it does take a lot from me to do this.

I promise, though, that I will keep posting here so that everyone knows about it and we can have something like a think-tank, and even hold discussions about this.

Thanks,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

sunita.basnet's picture

Beautiful piece

Dear Jackie,

What a wonderful and beautiful piece of writing. I am so impressed with your descriptive writing. Please continue to write such types of beautiful piece. I wonder you can start writing a book. this will be a wonder book. Looking forward to hear from you.

Great Work Dear
love you

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

jap21's picture

Hi Sunita

I already have written the book on this theory, some years ago. It took me about three years to do it, but I finished. Now, having the guts to publish it is something else.

Once a man, in representation of a foreign office for financial studies, asked me to give him the book draft, and we could begin with a more serious investigation and they would publish my book in the end. The problem was the contract: they offered me 1.000 US dollars, when for the same type of investigation they were paying 10,000 to a male colleague. When I asked for 3,000, he said he wasn't interested anymore.

I decided it was OK. I am not the kind of person who begs for anything... at all! His problem if he doesn't want to pay a woman researcher. I would not let my vision, my work, be diminished by accepting to be treated that unfairly (gosh, I wasn't even asking for the same 10,000 the male colleague had accepted!).

But I will keep trying. I need to be more daring.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

sunita.basnet's picture

I am sorry to hear that....

Dearest Jackie,
I am well and hope you too. I am sorry to hear the discrimination in your country. Don't every give up your work. Keep trying. I believe one day you will suceed. Wow taking three years to write. I can imagine how much efforts you have given. I can also understand your situation when you give your best efforts if someone didn't not as you care, I know how you feel. I am sorry.
Anyway best of luck dear.

with love

With Love and Regards
Sunita Basnet

misscarly's picture

Hi Jackie, The article looks

Hi Jackie,

The article looks great in its finished form, I know you worked hard to make it just right.

That's a tough story that the offer for your book was so much less than your male colleague. It's good that you refused to back down when he wouldn't negotiate. Where are you looking for publishers now? It's good that you 'keep heart' and push on, with such a dedication you will surely succeed. My fingers are crossed for you!

love,
carly

jap21's picture

Hi Carly

It looks great thanks to my midwife, who helped me give birth to it! That one is you, my dear friend. I will always be thankful for so much time and dedication to it.

About publishers, I have to tell you the truth, I am kind of shy, and am empowering myself at the moment to be able to take many 'no's before a yes comes by. hehehe. I know I should go out there and look for some publishers, but I just need to get my guts together.

I also wanted to know what the community would think about these ideas, and from their reaction start developing more confidence as to what the reaction of the public might be when they read the book.

A theory as new and challenging as this one, is not easy to digest. But I have something to propose to the world, so it is worth to keep trying.

Hugs and love to you,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

marietta64's picture

hi

i like this piece...

jap21's picture

Hi

I am glad you like it. Thanks for reading.

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

olutosin's picture

Well done Jap

This is a beautiful piece friend, well done

Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale
Founder/Project Coordinator
Star of Hope Transformation Centre
512 Road
F Close
Festac Town
Lagos-Nigeria

https:

jap21's picture

Hi Olotusin

I am glad you liked it. I am honored with your reading.

Thanks.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

I like the recycle strategy

This is a well-done piece and I honor you for posting it... I know it was hard. I love what you wrote about our need to recycle new information to get it. Just think of the resistance Nicolaus Copernicus' theory met when he stated that the earth revolved around the sun. His theory was considered blasphemous at the time, but is now regarded as the "starting point of modern astronomy."

Great job.

Jennifer Ruwart
Chief Collaborator
JR Collaborations

jap21's picture

It is in the way the brain works

Education Scientists like Vigotsky have come up with the theory of what you just called recycling, for them the term is building up knowledge beggining with the history and the culture of the persons (for Russians, community history and culture).

So, as this is the first time people are reading about this, it is only an orientation into the subject. All of us need to read about this a lot more to be able to build enough confidence on the terms as to use them freely.

Thanks for the comment. Though your ideas, I see that my book needs a lot of editing, to become more understandable. I need to be on top of that.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Tina's picture

This is fascinating

Thanks Jackie for some food for thought here. As the other readers have hinted. It is clear that you are just scratching the surface of this topic. I am interested to learn more.
Tina x

jap21's picture

Thanks Tina

I will surely be writing more, as this applies to everything we humans are involved in. You will be hearing about this soon once again.

I want to try to make it interesting also, as like any other theory, it can get very dense, and that is not appealilng for any audience.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

heatherc67's picture

Interesting...

Hi Jackie,

Thank you for referring me to your article. As I was reading it, I was thinking about a book or two you should read. The first one is "Banker to the Poor" by Prof. Mohammad Yunus. This is a may who revolutionized micro-credit in Bangladesh and over 90% of his bankers are women. His program has empowered women in his home country but in other countries where it has been replicated. The other book is called "Creating a World Without Poverty" again about Dr. Yunus, and he offers a new way of approaching the issue of poverty away from NGOs and charity through a concept he calls "Social Business."

Also, he expanded his program to include an 0% interest loans to struggling members (beggars) http://www.grameen-info.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26...

He and his Grameen Bank (nine of this female bankers joined him at Norway to receive their honors) shared the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for creating economic and social development from below. Also, he recently was one of the honorees of the Medal of Freedom from President Obama. He really has compassion in helping the poorest of poor and that is women and children.

I think you can gain some insight from his vision and how it can meld with yours.

Blessings,

Heather

jap21's picture

What a great bank!

I have read the page, and I think the Grameen Bank is like a dream come true. Thank you so much for the inspiration. Also, when I read your comments to the other posts, I became aware of how powerful visions can be, and how interesting it is to receive new insights. It is just that women, many times, tend to be the worst enemies of other women. But not in this community. Here we are doing a great job at empowering each other to put our ideas to work.

And that is what you just did, you encouraged me to go on, and to expand my horizons.

I see you doing a great job in Pulse Wire, writing to inspire the women in the world.

In friendship,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

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