What We Do
Where We Work
WJI works with Maya women in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. We partner with rural, indigenous communities that predominantly speak Kaqchikel, a native Mayan language. Indigenous women, including Maya Kaqchikel, are especially vulnerable to violence due to their limited access to resources. In rural communities, poverty, discrimination, isolation, and social norms combine to create heightened challenges for Maya women.
- La Pila
- El Sitio
- San Lorenzo
- La Trompeta
- Las Mercedes
- El Milagro
- Xeatzán Bajo
- Paraíso Chichoy
- Chichoy Bajo
- El Llano
- Los Pinos
- Cruz de Santiago
- Pueblo Viejo
- Asunción Manzanales
San Juan Comalapa
- Cojol Juyu’
- Xiquin Sanaí
- Pa Ya’
- Agua Caliente
San Martín Jilotepeque
- Molino Centro
- Cruz Nueva
- Pacoj 3 Cruces
- Colonia 9 Septiembre Choatulún
- San Francisco Choatulún
- La Buena Esperanza
- San Antonio la Merced
San José Poaquil
- Hacienda María
- Hacienda Vieja
Why is our work in Guatemala so important? As a country, Guatemala has a particularly high rate of indigenous families living in poverty, as well as one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world. By working directly with indigenous women in rural communities, we can begin to break intergenerational cycles of violence and inequality.
of the population is indigenous.
of the indigenous population lives in poverty.
highest rate of violent death among women in the world.
of indigenous girls drop out of school by age 15.
of indigenous girls are married by age 18.
lowest rank in Latin America on the gender inequality index
Legal Services Program
The Legal Services Program provides free legal services directly to women in need by bringing lawyers and paralegals to their communities and by providing bilingual Maya Kaqchikel-Spanish resources. Our mobile legal outreach ensures that the most marginalized women, who may not be able to leave their homes or communities, can access legal support and counseling. In doing so, we greatly expand women's access to justice.
Women’s Rights Education Program
The Women’s Rights Education Program is a three-month legal literacy and empowerment course that educates women on asserting and protecting their rights. Through our program, women receive training on key issues, including domestic violence, sexual and reproductive rights, and property rights and inheritance. We also provide skill-building workshops, focusing on leadership, decision-making, and communication skills.
Adolescent Girls Program
WJI’s Adolescent Girls Program employs a holistic approach, working directly with both adolescent girls and important stakeholders in their lives, to protect girls and end child marriage in rural Guatemala. Our program improves girls’ knowledge of their rights, transforms local norms that condone child marriage, and ensures parents and community leaders take action to delay early marriage.
Community Advocates Program
The Community Advocates Program taps into the transformative potential of Maya women, training them to become leaders, women’s rights educators, and mentors to women and girls in their communities. Advocates undergo intensive leadership development in a two-year program that includes monthly workshops on human rights, prevention of VAWG, and leadership, as well as training on workshop facilitation, monitoring and evaluation, and community-based advocacy.
WJI was Founded
WJI is founded to address violence against women and girls and improve Maya women’s access to justice. WJI piloted its Women’s Rights Education Program, working with 15 women in one community in Patzún.
WJI Expands to 5 New Communities
WJI expanded its methodology into 5 communities and launched its Community Advocates Program. 10 women who graduated from the Women’s Rights Education Program completed intensive training to serve their communities as Advocates.
The Legal Services Program is Founded
WJI began its Legal Services Program, becoming the first organization in Guatemala to implement a combination of rights education and mobile legal outreach in rural communities in the local Mayan language.
WJI Expands to 12 Communities with 500+ Women Participants
WJI expanded to a total of 12 communities with over 500 women participants. Our Legal Services Program provided legal counseling to 150 women and their families, including 23 women who receive land titles. WJI’s 15 Community Advocates dedicated over 2,250 hours of work to provide mentorship, leadership, and women’s rights education to their peers.
The Adolescent Girls Program is Founded
WJI strengthened its holistic methodology, implementing a new Adolescent Girls Program focused on ending child marriage through interventions with girls, parents, and community leaders. In 2015, over 1,100 women and girls participated in our programs, which as a result benefitted more than 4,000 individuals.
WJI Programs Expand to 18 New Communities
The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women awarded WJI a three-year grant, allowing us to expand our programming to 18 new communities and double our number of program participants. As part of this initiative, WJI began training police, service providers, and local leaders to build institutional capacity to respond to cases of violence against women and girls.
Hivos International and Dining for Women Awards Grants
The transformative impact of WJI’s work was recognized through grant awards by Hivos International and Dining for Women. Through their support, we worked with 280 elected leaders from 11 communities to implement Community Action Plans, developing community-based responses and prevention mechanisms for violence against women and girls and child marriage. The number of women counseled by WJI’s legal team increased by 72% from the previous year, totaling 495 legal cases.
The United Nations Democracy Fund Awards WJI with a Two-Year Grant
The United Nations Democracy Fund awarded WJI a two-year grant to support the replication of WJI’s programming in a second municipality. In 2018, WJI reached 33 rural communities with its work and 4,857 women, men, and children participated in our programs. We strengthened our Adolescent Girls Program through partnerships with the Global Fund for Children and Girls Not Brides.
WJI Launches Adolescent Boys Program
With the support of WomenStrong International, WJI began plans to expand its Adolescent Girls Program and launch a parallel pilot Adolescent Boys Program, which would focus on topics such as new masculinities, countering machismo, gender equality, delaying marriage, preventing violence against women and girls, and life skills. The WomenStrong International grant also supported WJI in providing more awareness workshops to parents, training for community leaders, and free legal services.
WJI Responds to COVID-19 and Expands to San Juan Comalapa
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Guatemala, causing rates of unemployment, early unions, and violence against women to drastically increase. WJI staff began distributing emergency food and masks throughout rural Guatemala and launched a hotline that women could call and text 24/7. Through the hotline, women were connected to WJI’s remote legal and psychological services. Meanwhile, in partnership with other local organizations, WJI developed radio programs providing health information about COVID-19 and the prevention of violence against women. Despite the year’s many challenges, WJI was also able to expand to 12 new communities in the municipality of San Juan Comalapa thanks to a generous grant from the Tinker Foundation.
WJI Expands to Two More Municipalities with Grant from the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women
After receiving a three-year grant from the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, WJI began plans for expansion to two more municipalities: San José Poaquil and San Martin Jilotepeque.
Legal Services Program Client
Women’s Rights Education Program Participant
Adolescent Girls Program Facilitator
Clara Michelle Yos
Adolescent Girls Program Participant, 16 years old
WJI Community Advocate
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