Lula Mena is not a household name, but she’s made a huge impact on the lives of women in her home country of El Salvador. The small Central American country has been ravaged by poverty, crime, and gang-fueled warfare. Women have been especially hard hit by these conditions with more than half of all women saying they’ve experienced some form of violence and many women facing abuses at work that include wage and pension theft and extortion from gangs.
But Lula is not simply sitting back and watching her country sink into despair. She’s using her creativity, smarts, and ambition to empower the women of El Salvador, while also preserving the country’s culture and traditions. In a recent interview with Fortune, Lula lamented how “[w]e have no identity as a country. We are losing our traditions. We don’t feel proud to be Salvadorans.” To combat this, Lula started her own business designing eco-friendly home and fashion items that are hand-made by at-risk women and artisans in El Salvador.
Because of her business, hundreds of women are able to provide for their families, while being able to export to the world traditional Salvadoran designs. On her website, Lula details the amazing social impact her business has had, including giving the children of these women artisans access to education, housing, and even helping to create a cultural shift around the divisions of labor between men and women in a highly patriarchal society.
Lula is an inspiration to women everywhere and is truly making a positive impact on the world. For that, she gets this week’s Friday Spotlight.
Wishing everyone an amazing, restful long weekend! Until next time!