Meet Inspiring Women

Why give
Empowering Women


Across the globe, women make up over half of the workforce in tourism, and yet often occupy the lowest paid and lowest status jobs, with very limited opportunity to progress into leadership or managerial roles.

V Social collaborates with inspiring, strong women day to day. Our deep conviction for Community Based Tourism is related to the fact that we see women being empowered to leadership positions in many Community Based Projects. 

Meet some of these women that agreed to sit down for a conversation and share their thoughts on the role of women in their organizations.


“We prove that women can build incredible projects, breaking free from the limitations imposed by societal norms.”

- Sophia Alvarado, President of Sinchi Warmi (Ecuador)

Sophia Alvarado Sinchi Warmi"I am president of the community tourism center in Sinchi Warmi. Women's leadership here in Ecuador has been undervalued. Here, we women are denigrated by many men, by their machismo. In Ecuador, there are several cultures, including Kichwa, Shuar, and Waodani. In the Kichwa culture, women have had a very low position, where they were not seen as able to lead a project in tourism.  But we have shown that we women are strong, brave, empowered, and that we can build a project. We prove that women can build incredible projects, breaking free from the limitations imposed by societal norms. We are not just waiting for our husbands' salaries, but showing that we can move forward on our own, that we have value. And we hope that other projects will allow other women to empower themselves, and find their own way of generating more income for their families.

If a woman is dedicated, strong, and self-confident, she can carry out any project. In Sinchi Warmi, strong women are working for a community that is sustainable with our environment and our culture. Sinchi Warmi is a project not about one person or one woman, but about the many families who benefit. It allows us to feed, educate, and support our children, giving them everything they need."

Discover Women Led Projects

“The ongoing empowerment in the communities shows the struggle of indigenous women are facing.”

— Ofelia Salazar, Member and former president of Amupakin (Ecuador)

“I'm Ofelia Salazar, and I represent the Association of Kichwa Women Midwives of Amupakin in the Ofelia Salazar (Amupakin)beautiful province of Napo, Canton Archidona. Our mission is to promote ancestral healthcare, with a particular focus on childbirth, postpartum care, and holistic healing methods. We offer not only healthcare services but also provide accommodation, food, and tours. Our dedicated team even produces natural shampoo, syrup, and flour at our pharmacy. We believe in nourishing both body and soul, while preserving the ancient wisdom of our culture.

As Indigenous women, we have come a long way in empowering ourselves and our communities. We've achieved a remarkable 70% leadership presence in various realms, breaking barriers and making our voices heard. Our struggle for recognition and rights has opened doors, enabling us to contribute to social and political spheres. Together, we are shaping a future where our heritage is cherished.

Our message extends beyond our communities. I invite international, national, and local visitors to Amupakin, where they can witness the tireless efforts of women caring for our jungle, promoting healing, and preserving ancestral knowledge. By embracing our customs and traditions, we can revive lost wisdom and reconnect with nature's remedies.

Looking ahead, our vision for Amupakin is to establish a registered and legalized hospital. We plan to achieve this by empowering our youth through education. We aspire to create a school or institute that offers midwifery degrees, ensuring the continuation of this vital practice. We want to visualize the pivotal role of the midwives that gave life to newborns throughout history, including before doctors. We are fighting for them so that ancestral knowledge and medicinal plants can be passed down and empower the next generation.”

More about Amupakin


“Dare to take decisions and begin. Although difficult, it is not impossible. All women can do it!”

— Fulvia González, leader of the Tsiru Alá project (Costa Rica)

Fulvia GonzalezFulvia González is an Indigenous entrepreneur and leader of the Tsiru Alá project in Costa Rica. Fulvia and her family welcome visitors to learn about the cultivation of products on their farm, especially the cocoa that is transformed into artisanal chocolate. The project is a response to chocolate not being sold at a fair price and a desire to protect ancestral agricultural practices and organic plantations.

All community members are part of the decision-making, but Fulvia is the coordinator of the project. She is very proud of how the project has developed and the impact it has had on the community. She notes how important it has been for her, as a woman, to make decisions, take action, and be an integral part of the work every step of the way. “In Tsiru Ala, women are everything and they do everything. For example, my daughter is a guide, a cook, and a motorcyclist. So women do everything and that is a role they enjoy.” 

Currently, the project is rising to the challenge of spreading the word about Tsiru Ala and proving that it is an opportunity for the entire community. Fulvia is happy that she has been able to lead and involve women such as her daughter, showing everyone the opportunities for the future it offers. 
“Dare to take decisions and begin,” Fulvia says. “Although difficult, it is not impossible. All women can do it!”


Discover Women Led Projects


"Taking on decision-making responsibilities resulted in a complete personal transformation."

- Maruja Hilari, community lead at Santiago de Okola (Bolivia)

Maruja Santiago de Okola-1Maruja lives on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. She is a member of the Indigenous community of Santiago de Okala, which has dedicated itself to tourism for several years.
Shy when speaking in public or sharing her ideas, Maruja was not interested in being a leader. For years, members of her community asked her to lead the tourism program due to her discipline and ability to complete tasks. She was already fulfilling this role in many ways, though without the official title. Maruja preferred listening and giving advice to a position of responsibility. The idea frightened her. It wasn’t common for women to take on such roles.

Eventually, she decided to break the paradigm. Still fearful, she took on the role of a community leader. From that moment on, everything changed. Maruja was used to fulfilling the requests of others and not asking why things were done the way they were. Taking on decision-making responsibilities resulted in a complete personal transformation. She made herself available to her community and lead those who were wary about participating. In a space usually led by men, she was able to gain respect by putting collective interests above individual ones. She is very proud of how she has thrived in a typically macho society.

Since then, she has accomplished a lot. Along with structuring the organization and its finances, she has put her community on the map when it comes to tourism. Maruja continues to work at involving more locals into the project and making sure the area is managed sustainably so that it does not lose its peacefulness and authenticity.


More about Santiago de Okola



"A woman's touch is like the pinch of salt in the food"

- Fresia Matamoros Cascante, community lead of the Zapotal Community (Costa Rica)

Fresia, community lead at Zapotal, Costa Rica

Fresia is a community leader in Zapotal, Costa Rica. Zapotal is an isolated region of Costa Rica. Traditionally dependent on agricultural work, this village of 60 people has been able to improve their local economy by welcoming guests. Along with homestays and a restaurant for travelers, they offer cooking classes and tours in the surrounding cloud forest. The project is central to Fresia's life, and she contributes to it by helping to organize tours with enthusiasm and dedication.  Welcoming travelers opens the village to the world and brings it to life. The community loves sharing their culture and learning about the people who come to visit. Increased tourism has had a ripple effect, with villagers improving their homes and local infrastructure to facilitate guests. New opportunities mean that young people can stay close to their families instead of migrating to cities for work. As the people of Zapotal witness more successes from their endeavors, they have greater confidence to take on new projects and challenges. 

Fresia is proud of her personal growth, along with that of the other members of the community. Through tourism, Fresia has seen how people can believe in themselves.  "Every day I am stronger and more resilient," she says. She also notes that the project has empowered women and allowed them to fight for equality with men. Their perspective has been valued, and they have become important leaders in the community. "A woman's touch is like the pinch of salt in the food," Fresia says. 

Now there are many women taking on leadership roles, which Fresia believes is valuable for the whole country. By doing so, they are breaking existing patterns and removing the macho culture that can sometimes exist in rural communities.  

"I want every woman to believe in herself," she says. "Everything you dream of can be realized as a woman." 


More about the Zapotal Community



"Before working in tourism, I did not know my rights."

- Modesta, community member of Tierra de Yaqchas

Modesta - Tierra de Yaqchas-1Modesta is 33 years old. Every day, she goes out to work in the fields to feed her three children. For five years, she has been part of the tourism project frun by her community of Chumpe, which is part of the La Tierra de Los Yaqchas network in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. Since she has been part of the group of women working in tourism, she says that her life has changed. She says she is now an independent woman and can give her children a better future.

Before working in tourism, Modesta says that she did not know her rights. Being able to meet with other women and talk to them about their roles in the community has led each one to become leaders, not only in their communities but also in their families. They now not only take care of the housework, but have become entrepreneurs, generating income for their families. In some cases, they even employ their husbands for tourism-related activities.

Modesta feels strong. She believes that she can bring change to her community and feels that, with each action she takes, the young women in her community learn to love their Indigenous culture and know their own strength. She knows that she is setting an example for her children and that they are proud of her. Her dream is that they will become professionals and return to the community of Chumpe to contribute to it without losing their Indigenous heritage.

Modesta hopes that tourists who visit Cusco and Machu Picchu will continue to visit so that they can continue to bring change to the community. 
Now Tierra de Yaqchas is working to generate school programs that teach young people about tourism. Through collaboration, the women are sharing with the next generation their values and Indigenous knowledge in a way that will allow the Sacred Valley region to develop in a way that respects their culture.


More about Tierra de Yaqchas



"For me, it is very motivating and interesting to see older women improve their quality of life."

- Eida, a facilitator of workshops for women living on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica

Eida Fletes"The objective of my work is empowerment and self-improvement for women, I want to inspire them and show them that poverty can be overcome. For me, it is very motivating and interesting to see older women improve their quality of life. I was able to see this in Guatemala and Mexico. My role allows me to help other women by giving them more self-confidence, self-esteem, and motivation in entrepreneurial pursuits. And this work helps me because I learn more about other people's needs. I am able to travel and get to know other cultures. 

The biggest challenge I face is the machismo I see in other cultures. This is something I am not used to, where women are in the shadow of men.

My wish for women is that they believe each and every day that they are capable of getting ahead. They are capable of loving and caring for themselves, and in doing so are better able to give something to society and their own families."




"Nothing is impossible with hard work and community"

- Diana, a young member of the Exito Verde Foundation in Bogota

Diana Exito Verde-1Diana is a young woman from the neighborhood Manitas, south of Bogota. For many years, it was a neighborhood taken over by people who had been displaced by the violence and overpopulation in Bogota. They faced stigmatization and neglect from the rest of the country. Yet a spirit of resistance has grown through collective, community work, and people like Diana, who characterizes the strength that can come from adversity. Diana’s family arrived to the neighborhood in 2005. At that time, they had two rooms for nine people: her parents, Diana, and her six siblings. When it would rain, the water would get in and flood the house.

Through involvement with Exito Verde, as well as a positive attitude and perseverance, Diana was able to help improve her family’s situation. She helped in the foundation as well as the recycling school, at the same time as taking care of her siblings while her parents were working. The family found support through tourists who visited with Viventura and V Social, and a direct donation allowed them to finish their house so they had a decent place to live. A couple of years ago, Diana enrolled in a bakery academy, graduating first as a bakery technician and later as a food processing technologist. She now works as a production manager in a small food company. Diana continues to support Exito Verde, believing it allows other young people like her to fulfill their dreams. She considers herself a "warrior woman" who does not let negativity hold her back, and believes that if she sets goals and is diligent, they will be realized. She still has many dreams to make come true!

The Manitas neighborhood has continued to change, and Diana feels that it has been in a positive way. Many young people who were part of gangs have approached the foundation, looking for a safe and peaceful place to take refuge. It is a place where youths can feel listened to and a little less lonely. And, like Diana, discover that nothing is impossible with hard work and community.

More about Exito Verde



" Let us persistently pursue our dreams, value ourselves, self-educate, seek advice from wise women, and never give up on our aspirations"

- Melissa Andi, leading woman at Sinchi Warmi (Ecuador)

Teilen über (3)"From the project's inception, I have taken on various roles, managing various matters on site and related to marketing. As the coordinator, I organize mingas, workshops, and training within the Sinchi Warmi project.

A moment that filled me with immense pride was when I was invited to speak about the Sinchi Warmi project at an event for leaders. A young single mother in attendance told me that my story had inspired her not to give up on her dreams. Hearing her words moved me deeply, and I realized the impact our project has on empowering women.

At Sinchi Warmi, we women take charge of the administrative tasks and decision-making within the community. We cherish our roles, and the project offers us the opportunity to work as a family, educate our children, and preserve our culture and mother tongue. As a leading woman, my biggest challenge was preparing the project to be self-sufficient and gain recognition on a local, national, and international level. We strive to be a sustainable example, valuing our ancestral knowledge, and generating income from tourism as well as cultivating our own health products.

Women's leadership in tourism processes can be enhanced through training, workshops, and exchanging experiences. Placing women in areas where their skills shine and recognizing their work are essential steps in promoting their empowerment.

My message to all women is that we deserve respect, regardless of our cultural background. Let us persistently pursue our dreams, value ourselves, self-educate, seek advice from wise women, and never give up on our aspirations."


Discover Women Led Projects



"To all women, my message is to persevere with your desired projects, drawing strength from the present and the future."

- Meet Clara Panca Galindo, leader in the community of Ccotos (Peru)

ASTURS PERU is an organization committed to enhancing various activities, from agriculture and fishing to tourism and environmental awareness. As theClara Panca Galindo, Ccotos Community president of the Association of Rural Tourism Solidarity (ASTURS), my responsibilities include legally representing our association before public and private organizations, tourism companies, and more. I also coordinate pilot projects and sign agreements with tour operators, thanks to solidarity tourism from countries like Germany, France, and Holland.

Creating the association in 2010 was a proud moment, despite the challenges in raising awareness of community tourism projects, due to a lack of allies. However, we are empowered through alliances with environmentally responsible and solidarity-focused operators. Financing from travelers enables us to help the local population and promote fair, responsible, and solidary tourism.

In our organization, women play a vital role in leading activities such as traveler reception, reservations, operations, coordination, training, and project follow-up. Empowering women has been my biggest challenge. I work to eliminate discrimination and ensure women are involved at each stage, including traveler visits.

More about Ccotos