Supporting gender equality in the tequila industry

Meet Paulina Romo, Director of Cultivando Lazos, a Non-Profit Organization

According to the firm Protis Global, in the vast landscape of the wine and spirits industry, Tequila has captured the hearts and palates of people worldwide. Whether sipped neat, mixed into a cocktail, or enjoyed in a shot with friends, Tequila is here to stay, and its journey is one worth toasting to.

But  does anyone take a moment to think about the people behind the spirit — particularly the women who work in the tequila industry?

Welum talked to Paulina Romo, Director of Cultivando Lazos, a Non-Profit Organization that aims to promote programs and solutions that contribute to social development and co-education in the spaces and structures of the tequila industry in Mexico.

Entremanos, is a small-batch, artisanal tequila, it is a strong supporter of gender equality in the tequila industry, where did the idea of founding the NGO, Cultivando Lazos A.C. came from?

Alan, our director of operations realized the need that women have within the industry to have more growing opportunities in their professional lives. We began asking them about their needs and decided that it was a need that existed in most of the distilleries/tequila companies.

What are the most important issues to eradicate in the tequila industry in terms of gender equity?

Development of critical consciousness: when women and girls identify and question how inequalities and power operate in their lives and affirm their sense of self and their rights. Thus, her “power within” is transformed and her aspirations and sense of self-awareness, confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficiency grow.
Access to and control over financial and productive assets: this can provide pathways out of poverty for women and girls.
- Knowledge and skills: these 2 aspects are fundamental to women and girl´s ability to make informed choices and effectively raise their voice, take purposeful action and pursue goals in the empowerment process.
- Institutional structures within the industry: to implement new policies within the sphere where women work on local, national and international levels. Institutional arrangements are shaped by formal laws and policies, norms and relations among groups and individuals. Our aim is to work hand in hand with tequila companies to implement policies that benefit gender equality.

Cultivando Lazos A.C. is the First institution focused on the tequila industry to address women's autonomy in a transversal, timely, and professional manner; its goal is to create greater visibility of where women currently occupy in this sector.  What activities or services does it offer to achieve this objective?

Based on the 4 issues we focus on to make progress in gender equality, we are currently working on the following workshops:

-  Workshops were we focus on developing critical consciousness, designed for both women in distilleries and in restaurants.
- The financial education initiative, in partnership with BBVA, initially  conducted in-person workshops solely in Mexico City, has transitioned to a hybrid model, enabling participation from individuals in Amatitán. We have conducted 4 workshops so far, each accommodating 30 women. Additionally, we are currently organizing another workshoo with a different distillery.
- Access to financial and productive assets: women have the opportunity to open a bank account through BBVA.
-  Institutional structures within the industry: The government alliance program extends over a duration of 3-4 month, focusing on the implementation of equality policies surpassing statutory regulations, tailored to be the specific needs of our industry. We have successfully collaborated with 2 distilleries under this program.

The advisory board of the organization has critical members such as Hillary Miller, Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, how did you achieve her commitment to this cause and how has it been working with her?

Our organization is privileged to have esteemed individuals like Hillary Miller on our advisory board whose commitment to our cause has been exemplary. Our strong personal relationships with members like Hillary have been instrumental in their dedication to our mission. Their invaluable advice has guided our strategic decisions, ensuring that our efforts are focused on addressing pertinent issues effectively. Working alongside Hillary and other board members has been rewarding experience, as their expertise and insights have enriched our initiatives.

When we initially announced the establishment of our NGO, Hillary graciously visited us in Guadalajara, where she had the opportunity to engage directly with the women participating in our inaugural workshops. This visit not only underscored het commitment but also provided firsthand insight into the impact of our work. I am pleased to share a photo capturing a moment from her visit.