Women Leaders of the Desert: Northern women building a better society

Women Leaders of the Desert: Northern women building a better society


An initiative organized by SQM's Nitrates Iodine Division recognized the role played by more than 40 women in isolated towns and urban centers in the Tarapacá and Antofagasta regions.

Forty-two women from different towns in northern Chile were recognized through the trailblazing initiative “Women Leaders of the Desert,” a project sponsored by SQM’s Nitrates Iodine Division designed to draw special attention to the important role they play in different areas of society during Women’s Month.

In this regard, Pablo Pisani, Corporate Affairs Manager for SQM’s Nitrates Iodine Division, stated: “We realized that in all our shared social value programs, whether in communities, foundations or corporations, the role of women is key. In most cases, female leadership allows these organizations to grow and strengthen, contributing to the sustainable development of their territories.”

This was why Women Leaders of the Desert was created, an initiative that concluded with two emotional recognition ceremonies to honor the work of women in 10 categories: Lifetime achievement, entrepreneurship, SMEs, sustainability, sports, heritage, among others.

Noemí Salinas, the Tarapacá regional secretary for the Women and Gender Equity Ministry, acknowledged the importance of the private sector’s community work, adding that “today we are alongside a diversity of women who have been recognized, not only by SQM but also by society as a whole. We see different experiences that bring together the importance of the work of women as a contribution to the region’s wealth. Women are present in sports, culture, heritage, entrepreneurship, among other dimensions, thus demonstrating how important community contribution is in the region, which is a task of the State but also of the private sector, which in this case is being done nicely through this recognition.”

At the award ceremonies, the women walked down a red carpet and showed off their best. They were received by Carmen Gloria Arroyo, lawyer and face of TVN, who emceed each of the ceremonies and gave them an important pep talk on female empowerment.

“We women always get ahead through hard work, you have to work and pass that on to your children, so I thank SQM and God for this award. It was a beautiful ceremony with a very motivating presentation by La Jueza,” said Teodora González, farmer and community leader from Bajo Soga, during the ceremony in Iquique.

Ana Olivares, vice president of the Antofagasta Historical Heritage Group Los Viejos Estandartes de Antofagasta, said “I would like to thank SQM for the recognition of the women of our region. Even more so in a relatively different field like ours, memory and gender recovery. This type of activity fills us with energy we need to continue investigating the role of women in such a difficult space as is the Pacific War.”

March 8th on site

During Women’s Month, SQM’s Nitrates Iodine Division also led activities at its facilities in Nueva Victoria, María Elena, Coya Sur, Tocopilla and Santiago, where female workers and executives participated in the “Successful Women and Tomorrow’s Challenges” discussion forum to analyze the advances and challenges of the industry.

Ana Maria Cifuentes, head of Environmental Operations for Antofagasta, highlighted the initiative, adding that “women in this field must dare, if they can. The limits are set by each one of them. Today there is no more competition between men and women, the doors are open and the limits are prejudices left in the past.”

During these discussions, the workers discussed the progress made in female participation levels and the challenges of integrating more women in the different operations. They also learned about the programs that SQM’s Nitrates Iodine Division is carrying out to promote diversity and inclusion.

“I have really enjoyed the experience. I have been able to contribute a lot over these five years in my position. I feel very empowered and happy doing my job. Today we have many female colleagues and working with them is wonderful,” said Javiera Lara, Process Researcher at the Nueva Victoria mine.

Today more than ever SQM’s Nitrates Iodine Division ratifies its commitment to continue creating shared social value to promote inclusion, diversity and gender equity, through a series of programs to promote female labor participation, such as the Mentoring Program, apprenticeships, seminars, internships and thesis projects, initiatives that have allowed them to achieve, to date, 20% female staff across all operations.