The Association of Highland Women is an innovative model of community organizing that fosters the growth of self-perpetuating organizational nuclei in historically marginalized communities. The mission of AMA is to break cycles of dependency by providing accompaniment and support to grass-roots community leaders to foster transformational processes with Indigenous women.
The acronym AMA was chosen to reflect a unique organizational vision that is the heart of AMA’s methodology. AMA is a form of the Spanish verb to love. AMA understands that many communities suffer from generations of trauma that creates emotional as well as organizational stresses that require more than a singular focus on material development.
AMA organizes women into circles comprised of ten to twenty women. The scale is important because it allows for small group dynamics. Many women do not feel comfortable to participate in large groups and do not have the opportunity or responsibility to assume leadership roles.
The groups hold weekly circle meetings that are facilitated by trained community organizers who deliver planned curriculum that is organized around four programming areas that are:
- Self-Esteem and Mental Health Programming
- Civic Participation
- Private Enterprise
The Self-Esteem and Mental Health Programming is realized to prepare women for success. It is understood that if a woman does not believe she is capable of success she will not be motivated to seek change. AMA develops peer-to-peer counseling skills to provide basic services that are non-existent in rural communities. Activates include reflections, positive affirmations, inspirational readings and group dynamics.
The Education component reflects a hunger for knowledge and skills of women whom are often socially and culturally isolated. The topics range from light and enjoyable topics such as painting, cooking classes and Yoga to health and nutrition training to topics of governance and planning.
The Civic Participation component focuses on fostering agency by educating community members about dependency. The program seeks to counter an increasing culture of dependency by providing communities with successful experiences. Circles are supported in identifying problems or opportunities and developing SMART projects. The projects serve as real life learning experiences where AMA provides management support and funding for women to learn the process of planning and implementation.
The fourth are is the promotion of private enterprise a viable strategy to break cycles of dependency and marginalization. AMA endeavors to create turnkey business ventures that assist women displaced by globalization to find new markets and opportunities. AMA belongs to various business networks to connect communities with markets, training and resources to foster the growth of healthy markets.
AMA seeks to coordinate with other organizations to facilitate the extension of existing programs to groups of women organized and prepared to take advantage of programs.