Who We Serve
Because of the arduous nature of the domestic arena, women must enlist their daughters’ labor in order for the family to survive. For many families, daughters are their only insurance against disaster. They do not believe girls can be the source of future income and improved lives. Valuing their contributions to domestic businesses, childcare and housework, families typically do not invest in educating girls.
Women Work Together (WWT) is mindful that indigenous Guatemalan girls have few options for better lives and face a transition to adulthood that is hampered by lack of education and severe poverty. Mayan girls suffer from the country’s highest school dropout rates, early pregnancy, poor healthcare, discrimination and isolation from community resources. WWT confronts the systemic issues with participatory programs that account for the barriers and offer opportunities for empowerment. Studies of girls’ attendance in San Pedro’s aldea schools are scanty, but the significance of this problem became clear when in more than 30 aldea visits with adult females, nearly 75% of women workshop participants indicated they could not read.
Studies of girls’ attendance in aldea elementary schools show that boys outnumber girls 3 to 1. A 2010 municipal study points out that at least half of the women surveyed had only attended school to the third grade, a point at which families can benefit from their labor at home. Such dismaying illiteracy is clearly a limiting factor for women becoming leaders in their communities. It speaks not only to reading and writing, but also to perpetuating women’s submissive and dependent status, a condition that minimizes their potential contributions to community development.