Johanna Carranza is a UN Community Volunteer in Ecuador. At the age of 10, she learned the traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat and now, at 24 she serves in UNESCO's Weaving for Sustainable Development project.
With her knowledge, Johanna motivates young people to keep tradition alive by teaching them the art of weaving. The toquilla straw hat is woven from fibers of palm trees characteristic of the Ecuadorian coast. Pile, Johanna's hometown, is a coastal community and the toquilla straw hat is part of cultural heritage.
Johanna Carranza (front right) gives advice to young apprentices at the Escuela de Tejedores on the techniques of weaving toquilla straw hats to preserve the traditional practice. @ UNV-UNESCO, 2022.
I want young people to see me as a reference so they continue with this legacy and pass the knowledge onto others. That goes beyond seeing the hat as an object but to see artisans as cultural subjects. This also implies going beyond buying a hat, it implies recognizing the sacrifice and the value of the hat for the community," says Johanna.
The solutions to preserve cultural heritage should come from the community explains Johanna's supervisor, Juan Sebastian Mosquera.
Johanna's leadership was key for the community to take ownership of what UNESCO was developing on the ground." -- Juan Sebastian Mosquera, Project Coordinator.
In many communities, women are the bearers of traditional knowledge. Women like Johanna Carranza are an important link between their communities and the UN host agencies. They keep their community legacy alive while making tradition sustainable generation after generation.
Johanna Carranza (left) with Sebastian Mosquera, Coordinator of the Project, through the streets of Pile, Manabi, where many of the best toquilla straw hat weavers reside. @ UNV-UNESCO, 2022.