Women Work Together is a nonprofit organization that has provided education and empowerment programs for Mayan teen girls in San Pedro Sacatepéquez, (SPS), San Marcos, Guatemala, since 2009. Located in the western highlands, San Pedro is an indigenous town of some 65,000 people, 25,000 in the urban center and 40,000 in 17 rural villages.
With an eye to the program’s sustainability over the long term, in 2011 WWT supported our Guatemalan partners in establishing Mujeres Trabajan Unidas (Women Work Together) as a local, grassroots nonprofit, legally recognized in Guatemala. (Full name is Asociación de Desarrollo Intergral Mujeres Tabajan Unidas, or ADIMTU)
Working together, we’ve established the Girls Leadership Institute as our flagship program where high-potential teens participate in a 3-year sequence of leadership development workshops, expanding their horizons, sharing ideas and making new friends who are also committed to staying in school. Back in their villages, these fledgling leaders participate in Girls Clubs and work on community-based projects to apply what they learn in the participatory workshops.
Along with our intensive work with the girls, WWT and ADIMTU reach out to mothers, fathers, teachers and community leaders to enlist their support of the girls’ educational aspirations.
We are also promoting a community-wide messaging campaign as part of our long-term effort to shift cultural norms around girls education. Manda Tu Hija a La Escuela - Send Your Daughter to School – uses t-shirts, public posters and boosts from local TV and radio stations to underscore the value to the whole community of educating girls.
With each passing year, the level of local participation in our programs continues to rise – an important indication that change is underway in San Pedro Sacatepéquez.