Guatemala: Young Mayan Women Shape the Future
Change agents like Laura are committed to making a difference in the lives of young women in Guatemala’s indigenous communities. (Photo credit: UN Women / Phil Borges)
At 24 years old, Laura has already endured a lifetime of suffering.
Growing up in an indigenous community in Quetzaltenango, in western Guatemala, Laura lost her mother at the tender age of 13. She dropped out of school to become the substitute mother for her eight siblings. Her father turned to alcohol, which fueled violence. Laura was his regular victim.
But Laura was never defeated. Today, she is an advocate for women and adolescents, thanks to a project implemented by Population Council Guatemala, a grantee of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. The project aims to empower indigenous young women as agents of change in their communities.
Solutions from Within
Guatemala has a grim history of decades of civil war, where women, especially from indigenous communities, are at risk of multiple forms of violence. Nearly 45 percent of Guatemalan women have suffered some instance of violence in their lifetime.
They face a daunting challenge in moving from abuse and oppression, as Laura experienced, to respect, safety and confidence. But the Population Council and its local partn