Meeting our Mission: Economic Empowerment & Reproductive Health

In Latin America, economic empowerment programs targeting adolescent women appear to have positive outcomes. They offer training that leads to formal employment and helps women to take the first steps toward new lives.

But few, if any, include sexual reproductive health in their curriculum.

2020: Ilma at 28 years

For Gracia, access to women’s healthcare and education, including accurate contraceptive counseling, is fundamental to its mission. CARE International lists it as one of its four pillars of economic empowerment. The United Nation’s Sustainable Goal #5 for gender equality and empowerment echoes this belief.


Women who have control over their health and bodies have brighter, longer, and more productive economic futures.

It is the first step on the path to freeing women from the poverty trap.


It improves their employment outcomes and longevity.
It increases women’s agency, education, and labor force participation.
And, it enhances their personal welfare, as well as that of their children and household.

So how does this play out in real time?

Ilma began her job in the Milagros Workroom in 2012. In fact, she was the first young woman Gracia hired. And, in December of 2019, Ilma had her first child, Marelyn.

What difference did delaying childbirth make for Ilma and her economic empowerment?

During those seven years in the Milagros Workroom, Ilma maintained secure employment, that pays her a salaried living wage with benefits.

For the past four years, Ilma has taken part in the Gracia Entrepreneur Training Program, or

2012: Ilma, in middle, at 20 years

GET, including its financial literacy classes. Because of her dedication, Ilma started her life as a mother with a savings account, the ability to budget for her expenses, and the means cover the costs of childcare. Her salary allowed her to pay for, and complete, her university education, and graduate with an advanced degree. This enhances income earning and employment possibilities throughout her life.

Ilma’s job in the Milagros Workroom provided a health savings account that allowed her to seek the services she needed. Following a complete course of prenatal care, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl with an ideal birth weight.

Because Ilma has proven she has the skills, ability, and drive to compete in the formal market, she can look forward increased earnings over her lifetime.

This will give her a voice in her partnered relationship, her family, and her community.

2020: Mujere Fuerte, Ilma 29 y.o.
Futura Mujer Fuerte, Marelyn, 10 mos.

And most importantly with Ilma as her mother, Marelyn will grow up with a living example of a true Mujer Fuerte, a strong woman.


Click the “Impact” button to learn how Gracia continues to make change for young women!

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