Margot Silva works as a spinner at the CAUVA Co-op in Rio Branco, a small village of 16,000 near the Uruguay-Brazil border. Here, the main source of income comes from working in rice production or travelling to work in the nearby tourist town of Marin Lagoon. Margot notes that Manos is a good source of income and development for women throughout Uruguay’s countryside. Each of the 13 co-operatives scattered throughout Uruguay provides employment for rural women, allowing them to remain in their villages and earn a living to support their families, and they work hard to keep it going.
Her family has a history with the co-op, beginning with Margot’s mother, who was widowed and working as a maid until she joined Manos. Her work with the co-op not only gave her a better salary, but the opportunity of personal growth provided by the social workers who routinely give educational workshops. In 1984, Margot began working at Manos as part of the knitting group at the CAUVA Co-Op. She had already been working locally as a knitter; in the eighties, a number of job opportunities for women became available as Manos’ exports grew. Margot said she was drawn by Manos’ renown and when she heard the local co-op was seeking new artisans, she joined the knitting group.
Margot has worked in the co-op’s fiscal commission, as a director, and is currently in charge of the co-op finances. Margot says she has learned valuable skills as an artisan, director (of the Manos Co-Operative Board), and as a woman. She has since begun working as a spinner and finds it to be quite enjoyable because she likes to work in the group environment.