WJI Newsletter - Feb 5
August 2017: Empowering Guatemalan Girls to Succeed
I’m pleased to share that the Women’s Justice Initiative is featured in the Seattle Foundation’s Heart & Science Magazine’s Summer 2017 Edition. The issue features our work empowering indigenous girls in rural Guatemala to delay early marriage and drive long-term change in their communities, as well as the perspectives of our Maya Kaqchikel team.
Among those voices is Program Coordinator, Elvia Raquec, who joined WJI in 2011, and has been critical to our grassroots efforts, including our Adolescent Girls Program. Originally from Los Pinos, one of the Maya Kaqchikel communities where WJI works, Elvia truly understands the challenges indigenous girls face in Guatemala: “My father wanted me to get married at 15, but I fought to keep studying.”
“It was a struggle, but I convinced him to let me study by taking on additional work.” As one of five siblings, Elvia helped support her family while finishing school and upon graduation, received a college scholarship to study social work. Although Elvia broke the cycle of inequality and became an example for girls in her community, her success is far from the norm in Guatemala. “We see this every day, women and girls have no voice or vote.”
However, after six years at WJI and two working directly with adolescent girls, Elvia is optimistic: “We’re changing the paradigm.” Our Adolescent Girls Program gives girls the tools they need to understand and assert their rights, delay early marriage, set and achieve life goals, and grow as confident, active community members. Elvia and our team also work with parents and community leaders to create supportive environments for adolescent girls so they reach their potential.
“I’m so proud to see the girls become empowered, see that there is more to life, and influence other girls in the process. These girls have few opportunities – most never finish elementary school – and face pressure to marry at a young age. But through our workshops, I’ve seen such a change in how the girls think about themselves and their futures. And that is necessary to prevent child marriage in Guatemala.”
Learn more about our work with adolescent girls in the latest Heart and Science Magazine, available online at:
On behalf of Elvia and the team, I want to thank you for empowering indigenous girls and women in Guatemala. Our work would not be possible without you.