Throughout 2021, the Women’s Justice Initiative has continued to integrate Community Advocates into the organization and support the ongoing leadership development of these local Maya women.
After undergoing an intensive two-year leadership training with WJI, Community Advocates become well-known in their communities as trusted resources for information about violence against women and girls (VAWG), women’s rights, and how to access legal services. Advocates provide accompaniment for women throughout the legal process and facilitate workshops for women and girls in their communities.
Claudia is one of seventeen Community Advocates who began to lead the Adolescent Girls Program in 2021. WJI staff supported the Advocates through training and coaching.
Claudia, an Advocate from Chuiquel, Patzún, has led bi-weekly sessions with a core group of young women in her community. The following description is a glimpse into one of Claudia’s sessions, as observed by a WJI staff member:
“The girls arrive, excited to see one another, and sit on plastic stools on the front porch of Claudia’s home. Claudia begins the day’s lesson. Today, she’s teaching young women about the importance of budgeting money—the difference between wants and needs and how to prioritize necessary purchases. While she runs the workshop, she maintains the ever-elusive balance teachers always try to find: she stays relaxed enough for the workshop participants to feel like they can trust and confide in her, but focused enough to deliver all of the information. Claudia manages the group of fourteen adolescent girls with ease.”
WJI’s new strategy to more actively involve Community Advocates in the implementation of the Adolescent Girls Program is a proven success. In the cohort of communities including Chuiquel, the rate of retention from program start to finish was 93%, thanks to the effort of women like Claudia.
“We know that we can count on the support of the Community Advocates within their communities and that they can successfully facilitate workshops by applying the tools that they learned with WJI,” says Sandra Cocón, a Program Assistant with WJI.
We are so proud of the Community Advocates who have stepped into this leadership role and look forward to continuing to work with these incredible women.