Nuestra Voz •
Women Facilitators of Nuevo Horizonte •
Peten Alliance for Life and Peace •
Nuestra Voz is a women’s collective founded by a group of Guatemalan women living in exile in Canada. In 1993, several of the women returned to Guatemala to continue supporting the work of women’s organizations at the grassroots level, supporting organizational processes through training and accompaniment. Over the years since 1993 the work of the collective has grown to include community groups located throughout the country and a coordinating team that works out of the capital and regularly travels to the member communities. The main role of the coordinating team is to conduct training and popular education workshops designed to develop and enhance the abilities of community members and help the women reach the goals they themselves have set for their group.
In a country with a population comparable to Ontario's, there were 431 reported cases of rape between Jan-June of 2003. During the first 8 months of 2004, 331 women were murdered, many of them tortured. The number of cases of violence against women and the apparently deliberate killings of women - termed femicidio or femicide - has increased drastically in recent times.
The conditions of extreme violence which Guatemalan women currently live demands urgent action by the State and civil society. Daily we see cases of women tragically and brutally assassinated, many of them sexually violated, and the authorities lack the political will to respond in a way that will guarantee the integrity and security of its inhabitants or justice and punishment to the offenders.
The conditions of exclusion and discrimination that women have historically lived in Guatemalan society mean that this major sector of the population is vulnerable and very limited in terms of their own personal development.
In some rural areas the illiteracy rate reaches 90 percent. Indigenous women are the majority and face triple discrimination: for their poverty, for their race, and for their gender. Yet they exemplify hope for positive change.
Government economic and social policy systematically marginalizes women and indigenous peoples.
“We can define the neo-liberal model as an exclusionary model which sharpens the socio-economic gap between the genders and is responsible for successive crises that affect all the countries of the region. As women, we must join with other social movements in questioning neo-liberalism and making coherent alternative proposals against this globalization”.
Dina Mazariegos, Nuestra Voz
Presently there are 8 member organizations in the Collective. The groups represent women from diverse backgrounds including Kakchiquels, T’zutuils, Garifunas, midwives, sex workers, fisherwomen, weavers, internally displaced communities, ex-combatants, and war widows.
Nuestra Voz has several programmes including:
- Political Training and Citizenship Participation School
- Train-the-Trainer Workshops
- Scholarships for Adolescents and Women
- Annual Campaign for No Violence Against Women
- Campaign Against Racism and Discrimination and For Respect for Diversity
- Economic Alterntives for Women’s Groups
Even though women make up 50.7% of the population of Guatemala, they continue being victims of discrimination. Women have lower levels of education than men and they have less training and poorer nutrition than men. This is due to political, economic, social and cultural factors within a patriarchal, exclusive and racist system that does not allow access to education and training for women. Women are confronted with multiple obstacles within their families and their communities that prevent them from organizing themselves and exclude them from training and reaching their full human potential and exercising their rights as citizens and human beings.
With the Political Training and Citizenship Participation School, Nuestra Voz wants to construct an alternative space for the education and training of women. They are endeavoring to contribute to the qualitative growth of organized women, as much the leadership as the rank and file. Through education and training of the women, they are prepared to participate in decision making locally, regionally and nationally. In the process, the women can contribute to meeting the needs of their communities in a more meaningful way as well as begin to change attitudes held by both men and women that block their full and equal participation.
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