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The “Second chance” for women inmates in Ecuador

The project seeks to provide a second chance in society for women deprived of liberty by reducing the digital gap, upgrading their income potential, and earning their peers and family respect by delivering training and education on IT skills, entrepreneurship, and business models.

Inadequate justice system, gender inequality, poverty, and limited resources: the challenges of Women deprived of liberty in Ecuador

In Ecuador, women who are imprisoned encounter numerous challenges due to an inadequate justice system, gender inequality, poverty, and limited resources. Many of these women are serving sentences for non-violent crimes or offenses arising from gender-based violence. The current correctional system does not offer sufficient alternatives for incarcerated women. However, programs such as AVSI’s “Employment opportunities in IT” enable women to acquire new hard and soft skills to help them create a better future outside the prison walls.

Studying law in prison for a second chance outside: Ana’s story

Ana (name withheld for privacy) is one of the women deprived of liberty in Ecuador involved in the project, carried out at the Cotopaxi Regional Correctional Facility. Several years ago, due to financial setbacks, she had to make a career change and transitioned from farming to entrepreneurship in the tourism industry. She turned her farmland into a place for sightseeing tours and added a firewood kitchen restaurant – all to provide a better life for her sons.

Ana’s unwavering determination enabled her to successfully expand her tourism business. As a result, in 2017 she decided to study for a law degree and secured an internship to gain practical experience

During this job, she became involved in a legal matter that she believed to be irregular, which resulted in a 5-year sentence. She has used her time in prison as an opportunity for personal growth and education. Currently, Ana is pursuing a law degree through an online university with the goal of becoming a mediator. Her dream is to use her knowledge of human rights to help others facing similar challenges.

Ana has been participating also in the ‘Second Chance’ project. This experience has allowed her to gain legal expertise and discover a passion for web design. She has expanded her knowledge in computers and IT, which has empowered her to maintain the online presence of her sightseeing business with the help of her family.

As Ana forges ahead on her entrepreneurial path, she pauses to reflect on the profound friendships she has built. She envisions a future where she can empower her friends to find legal pathways to freedom and new beginnings outside the confines of prison. Ana’s unwavering determination and commitment to education serve as an inspiration, demonstrating that, no matter the obstacles, a brighter future is always within reach.

"Second chance” the AVSI project to enhance employment opportunities for women inmates in Ecuador

The “Employment opportunities in IT for women inmates in Ecuador” project aims to provide training and education for incarcerated women. The primary objective is to help these women enhance their resilience, self-esteem, and relationships with their peers and families. The project participants have renamed it “Segunda Oportunidad” (Second Chance) to reflect its focus on providing female inmates a second chance to succeed. The project has been designed to provide valuable benefits to individuals by offering them professional courses on Web design, Database management, and Community Management. These courses equip participants with the necessary skills to develop their business models and participate in internships, both paid and unpaid. Additionally, the program provides access to mentorship from experienced professionals who have successfully navigated similar experiences.

This initiative has empowered over 50 women to create new business ventures, reinvigorate existing ones, and take an active role in the workforce. It offers them a fresh opportunity to showcase their potential and demonstrate that their past mistakes do not define them. The project is implemented in partnership with AVSI USA and ALATA as a local ally, with the financial support of the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation (WFF).