By Ana Lucía Gutiérrez González, Producer of Granadilla Podcast – Peruanas rompiéndola en el extranjero, Peruvian based in Israel
Over 50% of migrants from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela in 2019, were women. According to the First World Survey for the Peruvian Community Abroad in 2020, around 3.5 million Peruvians were living abroad, more than 10% of the Peruvian population. Of these, 9% are professional migrants – white-collar workers, scientists and researchers, for example. They form part of what I consider to be Peru’s sixth wave of migration.
The first wave of Peruvian migration took place between 1920 and 1950, with Peruvian oligarchs migrating mainly to Spain, England and the United States and blue collars heading mostly to the United States. Fast forward to the 1990s, and a fifth wave is estimated to have started in 1992 when the communist Shining Path party was in power.
The first time I migrated was in 2017. I went to Israel to study a master’s degree as a temporary migrant that moved for economic and academic reasons. Little did I know that before the end of the programme, I would meet my husband, an Israeli who inspired the podcast I now run. After I graduated, in 2018, I moved back to Peru, and in 2020, we decided to get married and settle down in Jerusalem.
Migrating is never easy: there is paperwork, cultural and language barriers, and much more to deal with. By April 2021, I acquired my first working visa in Israel, and the journey to find a job began. If you have ever moved to a new country where you have looked for work the following sentences will probably sound all too familiar: “you do not know the local market”, “you don’t know the local language”, “you need more experience”.
I was ready to go back to Peru. I had a steady job waiting for me – something that is not so common for migrants – I knew the work culture and I knew my way around. That is when my husband told me to get in touch with other migrant Latinas. I decided to narrow it down to Peruvian women and that is how Granadilla Podcast – peruanas rompiéndola en el extranjero was born.
Granadilla is a Peruvian fruit that is very hard and expensive to buy abroad. It is also my favourite fruit. “Rompiéndola” means “breaking it down”, or in this case dismantling stereotypes, barriers and challenges that female Peruvians face when they move abroad. Among the many goals of this podcast, one is to shine a light on Peruvian women and their achievements around the world, and, in so doing, to be a source of information and inspiration to Peruvian women considering temporary or permanent migration.
In 2021, the Granadilla Podcast hosted 50 Peruvian women living in South America, North America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Some of these women migrated first for studies, later deciding to emigrate permanently to continue their studies, start a family and/or to work. Although some expressed a desire to return to Peru, they felt that Peru could not offer them the same stability and opportunities that their host country could.
A 2017 study for instance showed that investment in research and development in Peru is very low, therefore narrowing the chances of someone with a PhD or postdoc from getting funding or finding a decently paid job in the Peruvian market. Beyond academia, young women are among those facing the most barriers when looking a job in Peru, according to the OECD. Even though this study was conducted in 2014, the situation has not changed much. And that is something to think about. How can we close the gender gap so these successful women might consider returning home? Can Peru invest more in research and development?
To name a few of our guests, we have hosted Diana Morales in Italy who created and directs the Pierre Janet Institute – a mental health centre offering specialised psychotherapy, wellness programmes and distance-learning courses. Yane Valdez, in Canada, is devoted to fighting the barriers that prevent women from succeeding in STEM fields. Katherine Tinoco, in England, runs a Peruvian dance company – ArtPerUK – to preserve Peruvian culture and dance. Yanymee Guillen, in South Korea, founded SAPPIENS, a platform for Peruvian researchers in STEM fields in Asia and Oceania.
A common challenge that many of the women shared experiences of was racism. Whether in England or in the United States, the Peruvian women I hosted had experienced some level of racism. However, instead of letting that stop them from moving forward in their lives, they took it as an opportunity to grow.
Another lesson from these 50 interviews is the importance of a second language. As migrants, even if you move to a country where your native language is the main language, speaking a different one will open new doors in terms of job opportunities. And of course, learning the local language and culture is a must. Latinos have a very strong culture, but when in Rome do as Romans do, which does not mean that we stop being Peruvians. We just do our best to combine our customs with local ones.
Finally, one of the main lessons that the 50 first Granadilla podcast interviews will leave you with is that women can achieve anything. They can start from scratch in a new country, they can reinvent their careers and find a new path, they can combine their culture with their partners’ and they can leave a strong Peruvian footprint wherever they go.
One of the main goals of Granadilla podcast for 2022 is to keep sharing the stories of Peruvian women around the world. We want it to be a space to discuss Peruvian migration from a gender perspective, addressing important issues for women like safety for instance; Lima, where most Peruvian women migrants come from, is one of the most dangerous cities in the world for women. And although it does not apply to all women, another important issue affecting Peruvian women’s migration is maternity. It takes a village to raise a kid, but how do you do it if your village is far away from you? We need to understand the gender-specific impacts of migration. And who is better placed to tell us than women migrants themselves?
 You can follow this initiative on Instagram, Spotify, Anchor and Apple Podcast. You can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a young project, we want to build bridges and collaborate with similar spaces.