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SPAIN: More Than 1,100 Women Gain Job Skills and Employment Opportunities through Salesian Initiatives

(MissionNewswire) A collaboration of six Salesian institutions, all members of the State Coordination of the Salesian Social Platforms in Spain, has implemented the Empodera-T project aimed at empowering women in vulnerable circumstances and poverty. The project provides socio-educational and workforce development services for women to help them gain employable skills and find broader opportunities in the workforce.

Started in October 2014 and continuing to September 2015, the project is financially supported by the Spanish Institute for Women through the European Economic Area under a memorandum of understanding signed by representatives from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Spain. Salesian missionaries working across six Salesian institutions (Salesians of Saint Jordi, the Pinardi Federation of Social Platforms, the Valsé Foundation, the Valponasca Association, Collectiu Popular and the Mornese Foundation) are participating in this project.

For close to 15 years, the State Coordination of the Salesian Social Platforms, through its member institutions, has been developing women empowerment and workforce development programs aimed specifically at women in vulnerable situations. In many instances, the women who participate in the programs are immigrants with little means of finding and retaining employment in their new country. Salesian missionaries are currently operating 19 programs in 10 Spanish provinces aimed at helping women break the cycle of poverty. These programs, supported by more than 130 professionals and volunteers, have helped 1,168 women gain new skills and find employment.

“Salesian missionaries care about the growth and development of women in the communities they serve,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Women are the backbone of the family structure and by providing women necessary education, training skills and support, families are made stronger. Social outreach programs, child care support and job training allow women to work at every level of production and management jobs while supporting and keeping their families intact.”

Women engaged in the Empodera-T project are assessed for their current skill level and interest. They participate in both classroom and hands-on training. In addition, they receive assistance with resume writing, interviewing skills and finding and retaining employment. Wrap-around services that provide child care, nutritional assistance and counseling are also provided.

Spain, which has been hit hard by the current economic troubles in Europe, now has the greatest inequality of the 27 countries of the European Union. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live. One in five citizens are living below the poverty line. Poor youth with too few employable skills struggle the most to find and retain stable employment.

Salesian missionaries in Spain have been working for many years to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for poor youth and women through residential and technical and vocational training programs.

“We want women to succeed in the workforce,” adds Fr. Hyde. “Salesian programs have always grown and adapted their programs to best fit the needs of the communities in which they serve whether through education, technical training or social development programs that help women gain the confidence, strength and perseverance to set goals in life and achieve them.”


ANS – Spain – “Empodera-T”

World Bank – Spain