According to reports, there has been a rise in domestic violence in Brazil over the last two decades. In 2016 news headlines framed the country as “one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman,” with a woman killed every two hours and assaulted every 15 seconds. Working in that context, IAF grantee alumni Instituto Pró Educação e Saúde (Proeza), has addressed gender empowerment by promoting vocational and marketing training and job placement for women while promoting educational activities for their children — keeping them in school and away from child labor, drugs and violence. The women in this project are victims of violence. Many do not have the courage to speak out because they depend economically on their husbands. By facilitating the integration of women into the workplace, socioeconomic conditions for the whole family tend to improve. Once these women start earning an income and become more economically independent, they are more empowered to break patterns of domestic violence.
Last year Proeza was able to create a new, autonomous women's organization, AMARE, which helps generate income, and is incorporating new members. PROEZA continues to expand business opportunities to AMARE, by finding new business partners and contracts. For example, it collaborated a large shopping mall in the capital Brasilia to secure prime space to display and sell items produced by AMARE’s women. It also won a contract with another shopping mall to produce 5,000 handmade dolls to give away to customers as Christmas prizes. More than 100 women have conducted vocational training on embroidery and sewing, and 200 children have participated in a variety of extracurricular activities that include tutoring and ballet. The products they make have gained popularity throughout Brazil, thereby increasing sales the women’s income by 300 percent. Their work has been featured in fashion trade fairs that help to disseminate their work and drive new sales. The project also launched an online store (www.apoenaloja.com.br), and plans a retail store. With IAF support Proeza is also building a community center for more women and their children to safely conduct their activities.