Teddies with woman

La Cana: Restoring women with their liberties one knit at a time

We have created a brand where, through our products, we can make visible the problems of our prisons and tell the stories of these women, generating empathy and social commitment that contribute to reducing stigma and social discrimination towards women deprived of their liberty

Daniela Ancira, Co-Founder and CEO of La Cana, Mexico

Daniela Ancira, WE Empower Finalist 2021 and 2022, Latin America and the Caribbean 

In her efforts to pursue fair employment opportunities for women who are incarcerated, Ancira created a company known as “La Cana” to restore the opportunity for imprisoned women to earn a fair wage. La Cana is a social enterprise that looks to address the issues within the prison systems such as the lack of effective job opportunities that provide prisoners with skills to better reintegrate themselves into society after their release. The challenge of changing prison from a place of punishment to rehabilitation simultaneously pursues a sustainable world. La Canas largest strides contribute towards UN SDG 5: Gender EqualityUN SDG 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsUN SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Gender Equality

In Mexican prisons, 40% of incarcerated women have been victims of various forms of violence and can become involved with criminal activity due to circumstances of coercion, codependency, or as an overall result of that violence. The workshops provided by La Cana encourage empowerment, individuality, and help readjust the dependent mindset victims have been forced into.

The programs teach social skills and help women find their sense of self again, as well as allow them to engage in exercises so that they can better navigate themselves out of potentially dangerous or illegal situations. After these programs, women have highly reported better relationships, a sense of independence, and general well-being/tranquility. Through the products of La Cana, women are given the chance to not only create economic freedom for themselves upon their release but also get the chance to tell their stories. 

Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

La Cana seeks to create awareness of the atrocities of the prison systems and the conditions the prisoners are forced to live in every day. The company works in alignment with UNAPS to actively reform the “National Law of Criminal Enforcement” to provide better regulation for workspaces, work materials, and to follow more safe and efficient protocols. Doing this creates better opportunities for prisoners to not just be prisoners, but allows them the option of rehabilitation and transformation. As well as reform, La Cana seeks to give judicial access to wrongly accused women including those who have experienced a violation of their rights. 

Decent Work and Economic Growth

To extend upon the business’s goals to create better working conditions, La Cana provides classes to train women “in various weaving, embroidery, sewing and macrame” to create the signature La Cana dolls, and all profits are returned back to the women. This gives women the chance to not only learn a very beneficial skill but to regain their independence and participate in focused work within their community.

Our Social Reintegration Program focuses on promoting the empowerment, well-being and economic autonomy of women deprived of their liberty, a population that has been constantly marginalized and victimized

Daniela Ancira, Co-Founder and CEO of La Cana, Mexico

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leading innovation in sustainability and climate change through their businesses. This Contributing Series highlights finalists of the Challenge whose work demonstrates how business models and social entrepreneurship can drive global impact.

by Samantha Studstill