Indigenous women in Guatemala learn new ways to prepare the produce from their own gardens.
Photo: Paul Jeffrey

On March 8—International Women’s Day—we celebrate and recognize the achievements and contributions of women and girls around the world. This day serves as a sign of how far the fight for women’s equality and empowerment has come. It is also a reminder of how important it is to continue the fight for equality for all women.

Many PWS&D programs place a central focus on women and girls. Empowering individuals is not only necessary for self-reliance but is also vital for the development of communities and society—an empowered community is an enabled community.

PWS&D partners work with vulnerable communities around the world to ensure that rights are protected, access to medical care is established, and knowledge about innovative and sustainable farming is taught. Yet, within these communities’ women often remain marginalized and face adversity. Gender justice is a priority for both PWS&D and our partners as we address issues of poverty.

In many indigenous communities in Guatemala, countless women face domestic violence, poverty and discrimination. Amongst these obstacles, it can be difficult for women to feel safe to voice their concerns, both in their households and local civil society.

PWS&D’s local partner, AMMID, uses workshops to empower women to improve self-esteem and knowledge of women’s rights and encourage political participation. Women learn about health, nutrition and hygiene, which improves their home and family lives. Importantly, AMMID also works to ensure men are educated on women’s rights.

Marta Crisóstomo attends a workshop where she learns new skills and gains self-confidence.

Marta Crisóstomo, a 30-year-old mother of a young son and a participant of the workshop, is grateful for their support she has received.  “Before, due to a lack of knowledge, I didn’t know how what I did impacted the health of my family, especially my son.  I learned how important it is to clean my kitchen, wash my dishes and practice good handwashing to avoid illness. Now that I understand I have put what I learned into practice every day.” By the end of the training, Marta learned skills to use in her day-to-day life, which empowered her and benefited both her and her family.

After finding the courage to advocate for themselves within their homes, the women who participate in the project apply what they learn in the broader community. They press to be fully included in civil society and in decision that are being made which will affect them.

Together, we are working at improving gender justice in Guatemala, ensuring women are better able to raise their voices so that their lives and their family’s lives are improved, on International Women’s Day and every other day of the year.