Independence for Women on Probation: A Second Chance with INSADE

The Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation remains dedicated to supporting strides towards economic independence.

At Lemonaid & ChariTea we are passionate about supporting initiatives that foster social justice and economic independence through the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation. Since the beginning of 2020, we have proudly partnered with the Mexican organization "Interculturalidad, Salud y Derechos AC" (INSADE) – the Association for Interculturality, Health, and Rights. INSADE's mission is to support the social reintegration and entrepreneurial independence of women on probation, a goal that aligns perfectly with our values. Through the innovative "Hecho en Libertad" (Made in Freedom) project, women acquire essential manual and entrepreneurial skills, enabling them to generate their own income post-incarceration.

Challenges in Mexican Prisons
The situation in Mexican prisons is dire, marked by poor living conditions and frequent physical abuse by guards. High recidivism rates further complicate matters. In 2016, approximately 25.9 percent of those who were deprived of their liberty had been previously charged with a crime, and 24.7 percent had been imprisoned before. The lack of employment opportunities and societal stigmatization push many first-time offenders back into crime, as they struggle to find legal means of income. Professional reintegration measures are often rated as "very low" in quality, exacerbating the issue.

Women and Reintegration: A Unique Struggle

Women represent only 5.2 percent of the 178,400 Mexicans in prison but face significant reintegration challenges. Most programs are tailored to men, leaving women with inadequate support. Families often abandon women upon their imprisonment, unlike men who usually receive familial support. This systemic discrimination further increases the likelihood of women committing crimes again.

In response to these challenges, INSADE launched Hecho en Libertad in 2011, focusing on vocational training and economic support for young offenders. The program consists of four phases:

1. Life Skills Development: Courses on sports, sexual and reproductive rights, and non-discrimination.

2. Product Creation: Workshops where participants learn to make and sell various products, providing financial support to their families during incarceration.

3. Entrepreneurial Training: Education on the Mexican economic system and business model development, with support for project applications and loan requests.

4. Post-Release Support: Continued assistance with social reintegration and business development.

The program has been highly successful, with none of the 1,300 young participants committing a crime again during its four years of implementation.

Hecho en Libertad: Empowering Women on Probation

Recognizing the unique needs of women, INSADE developed a new project under the Hecho en Libertad model, specifically targeting entrepreneurial opportunities for women on probation in the State of Mexico and Mexico City. Each year, 100 women participate in workshops where they learn to create handmade cosmetics, jewelry from recycled glass, and other products. They also receive training in business management, enabling them to establish their own businesses.

Post-training, the women develop business models and present them to a panel of experts who provide further guidance and referrals to government loan programs. INSADE also supports the marketing of their products through the Hecho en Libertad online platform, helping women build a stable income source after their prison sentences.

Building a Brighter Future

Over three years, 300 women will benefit from INSADE's program, completing their social, professional, and entrepreneurial training. Documenting their experiences will help future participants benefit from their insights. This initiative provides hundreds of women the opportunity to shape their futures independently and avoid returning to crime due to economic hardship.

The Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation is proud to support this transformative project by covering workshop and material costs, impact measurement, and product marketing expenses. INSADE's efforts are not just about economic independence; they are about dismantling patriarchal structures and advocating for gender-equitable reintegration programs.

Together, we are creating synergies that offer women on probation a real chance at a better, independent life.