Girl’s Rising Gender Equality Workshops Update

Hola amigos, 

Goodbye February, welcome March!

March is officially the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For me it is a beautiful month with the mix of cold and warm days, sometimes seeing snowstorms and sometimes seeing it melt all at once.

Meanwhile, in Guatemala, the temperature also fluctuates significantly at this time of year, with possible lows of as 5°C and peaks as high as 29°C. Personally, I dream of going to experience this climate in Guatemala for myself. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Guatemala since I joined SOS, but hopefully next Spring I will fulfill my dream of going to Alta Verapaz and Cotzal to check out the waterfalls, cenotes, and natural swimming pools in the jungle. For now, though, I am always enjoying to see the sun shining and the birds chirping through our virtual collaborations (and in the videos below you too can see the beauty of the communities we are working with). 

Implementation of Girl Rising Workshops in Learning Circles

Sustainable development relies on ending discrimination towards women and providing equal education opportunities. Supporting these objectives is a major component of our Guate Groundswell program. So, in partnership with the organization Girl Rising Guatemala we are delivering training and facilitating conversations among youth, their parents, teachers, and community leaders about the topics of gender equality.

Girl Rising is an international not-for-profit program that uses story-based tools and curricula to engage, energize and motivate young people to see beyond their borders, value their education, understand their rights, and believe in their capacity to create change.

For instance, one of the real-life stories from the program is that of Senna’s “Senna’s family struggles to survive in a bleak Peruvian mining town. Her father has big dreams for her and so insists she go to school. She discovers the transformative power of poetry. Her passion and talent seem to ensure she’ll have a better future – and be the success her father imagined she’d be. “Poetry is how I turn ugliness into art.” (Senna)”. The curriculum builds upon the real-life story of Senna, shown through a video (see here), complemented by activities to help reinforce learning objectives and themes. 

To support the implementation of this program, we began by inviting Teachers, Student Leaders, Parents, and various Youth & Women’s organizations together for a few general community training sessions back in October 2020. Through this process, we wanted to build the base of community support to better understand the challenges and opportunities related to gender equality within each community’s specific local context, and how we could best engage youth as leaders on the topic.

For instance, the local communities chose the Story of Senna as one of the most relevant modules of the training program to focus on, to fit their local context. 

We also worked together with the community to translate curriculum materials into their local Mayan languages, based on feedback this was a topic where it would be important to learn with the comfort of native languages.

Senna’s story book in Poqomchi

Within each community, one community leader was chosen to lead the delivery of additional youth-targeted workshops. Meet our three leaders below.

Isabel Zacarias is the Program Officer in San Felipe Chenla, she is the mother of 1 daughter. She is also a wife and a leader in her community. Isabel has been working with SOS for more than 5 years by facilitating SOS trips. She is also pursuing her Master in Human Resources. Some of her extensive strengths are kindness, leadership, and perseverance.

Vanessa Maas Cun is the mother of 2 children, Ariana and Aron. At the age of 17, she graduated from college as a Primary School Teacher. After a while, she decided to continue with her studies and is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Intercultural Education from the University of Guatemala. She is also working in Las Arrugas’s school and her motto is “To contribute to the training of young people so they develop skills to build a better Guatemala and, where education is core number one”.

Isabel Yate is 22 years old. When she was 8 years old, her father passed away, her mother faced economic challenges but with hard work, she managed to enroll Isabel in the Official Rural Mixed School in San Felipe Chenlá Cotzal, where she learned many things such as reading, mathematics, sciences, and arts. In 2015 she started her first year of college pursuing the Intercultural Bilingual Children’s Teaching career. She graduated in 2017 and is currently working at CONALFA (National Literacy Committee).

From Jan 2021 to Feb 2021, these leaders participated in three additional training sessions delivered by María José, Country Manager of Girls Rising Guatemala.  

Girl Rising Third Training

They were trained to deliver a total of 4 workshops, each of 1.5h to our youth mentors in Guatemala. Senna’s story includes topics such as:

  • Challenges faced by girls living in developing countries: prostitution, child marriage, early pregnancy, and child labor.  

  • Family Support and Influence: breaking down gender stereotypes, sharing the care work, and educating children about women’s rights and gender equality through the family.
  • Gender equality in education: struggle to access quality education in Guatemala especially among indigenous girls and Gender-based violence in schools. 

  • Overcoming gender equality: youth mentors discussed the importance of self-esteem, self-confidence, goal setting, respect, autonomy, honesty, and empathy. 

After receiving this training, the Youth Mentors are now going to be sharing what they learned to younger students in their community by delivering the workshops with their mentees through our learning circles. This is a unique youth-based, train-the-trainer approach that seeks to highlight the importance of gender equality and spark locally-led conversations and action to support sustainable impact.

Hear what participants are saying about the impact of the program

“Share with young people has been very rewarding. Youth mentors are eager to learn. They are full of energy, and enthusiasm to continue working for a community that thrives” says

– Vanessa Caal, Telesecundaria Teacher in Las Arrugas

“The gender equality workshop helped me a lot because before I did not know much about this topic, much less about my rights. My dad used to think that men should be served food first and he also said that men take advantage of their studies but women not so much, he thought females just wanted to get married and drop out of school.  After he saw my commitment to the program, he has been encouraging me to continue fighting for my dreams and studies. Today, I am confident that I can get ahead and become a great professional. I have spoken with my brothers and parents about what I have learned in the gender equality workshop that both men and women have the same rights says”

– Juana Lidia, Youth Mentor in San Felipe

“During the workshops, youth mentors commented that Senna’s story is shocking yet similar to what they have to go through. Many of them live in poverty, one of them also shared he has a dream, but due to economic situations and some family problems he has not been able to achieve it but he still pursues his dreams. Youth mentors think senna’s life is an example to move forward and a motivation for them to continue fighting in life”

– Isabel Yate, Community Leader in Cotzal

Guate Groundswell is made possible in part through support from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation and its partners: The InterCouncil Network, the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation, and the Government of Canada.

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