The American Dream has been anything but a dream for the women of Lepaterique, Honduras. Due to an acute shortage of work, many men have left the town for the US in search of work, leaving women behind in often precarious situations. This has exacerbated an already difficult situation for the women of Lepaterique, many of whom are housing-insecure. With 1 in 3 Hondurans living in extreme poverty and only 1 in 10 having access to credit for housing, dignified housing has remained elusive for many of Lepaterique’s women; the sad reality is that many live with their families in shanties.
Despite a strong taboo against women being involved in construction, Cristina Figueroa, Leader of the “Women in Action” community group, decided to take action anyway by organizing other women in her community to build houses in their town through the assistance of a government program. Working as a team, the group broke a record by building 83 houses in 14 months, becoming the only town in Honduras with housing construction led by women. That was until they took it upon themselves to train women in other municipalities so they too could enjoy housing security and become queens of their castles.
Honduras means ‘depths’ in Spanish. Honduras is home to the most coral reefs in the world after Australia, which has turned the country into a premier eco-tourism destination. Nonetheless, it is the second poorest nation in Central America. Because of this, the Honduran economy is heavily dependent on remittances, which comprise roughly 15% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the second largest share of any country in Latin America or the Caribbean.