Diageo highlights female Zacapa workers

5th March, 2018 by Owen Bellwood

Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), Diageo is celebrating the women behind its super-premium rum brand, Zacapa.

Lorena Vásquez petate weavers

Lorena Vásquez (second left) is master blender of Zacapa

The Johnnie Walker-owner sent lifestyle photographer Nicolee Drake to Guatemala, where she heard stories from some of the women behind Zacapa rum.

Drake met with women who weave the petate bands that adorn each bottle of Zacapa 23 rum, and also met the woman who creates the rum itself: Lorena Vásquez, Zacapa’s master blender of 30 years.

Vásquez said: “As women, we must stand up and support one another – build each other up and press for progress. If we don’t, who will?

Zacapa 23 ryum petate

Each bottle of Zacapa 23 rum is adorned with a petate

“Personally, I would love to see more women progressing to the top. I am proud to be in a position to make a difference not only among women but among the community I live in – to give back in recognition of everything it gives to us.”

More than 700 women work to hand weave Zacapa’s petate bands, a tradition that is said to be passed from mother to daughter.

Drake said: “These women have faced incredible hardships and many were widowed in the armed conflict in Guatemala. It was amazing to see the change brought about in their lives and the lives of their families.

“I loved meeting women like Ana, one of eight daughters of a widow, who has had to support herself financially. To do this, Ana weaves petate bands and with the income she earns, she has chosen to fund studies to become a teacher.”

Traditionally, Mayans believed the petate represents the unity between heaven and earth, the sun and the moon, the spiritual and the physical because the band has no beginning or end.

Diageo recently joined the Free the Bid campaign, which aims to promote equal opportunities for women working in advertising.

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