Home Topics Crime & Violence Guatemala: Supporting women in a climate of violence

Guatemala: Supporting women in a climate of violence

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Pervasive and systematic violence against women — committed with impunity —has reached epidemic proportions in Guatemala. During the past decade, over 4,000 women and girls have been killed (see Marilyn Thomson’s overview in the Focus section this week). There have been successful prosecutions in no more than 2% of these cases, meaning that 98 out of 100 killers of women literally get away with murder. This widespread impunity has been identified as a significant factor in the growing numbers of cases of violence against women.

As part of LAB’s focus on violence against women to mark International Women’s Day, we interviewed two prominent women’s organisations in Guatemala to find out more about their aims, how they work in communities and their use of networks to collaborate, train, educate and support women and other women’s organisations.

LAB interviewed María Ixmucané Solórzano Castillo and Ana Luisa Girón from Organización de Mujeres de Tierra Viva on an unreliable skype line last week. The synopsis of their conversation is followed by a link to an edited audio version. There is also a link to a PDF which has details about their activities for 8th March as well as some detail about the origins of International Women’s Day and how it is celebrated in Guatemala.

LAB also asked for further details from AMOIXQUIC (La Asociación de Mujeres de Occidente Ixquic) who work specifically with Mayan and Mestizo women in western Guatemala. AMOIXQUIC provided further details about their work, the challenges they face and their urgent need for further funding. A link to further information is provided at the end of their interview.

Organizacion de Mujeres Tierra Viva

Synopsis

tierra_viva_logoTierra Viva was formed 24 years ago and has evolved from a women’s centre into a feminist movement that defends and promotes women’s rights in Guatemala. They work in six different departments throughout the country: Guatemala City, Quetzaltenango, Sololá, San Marcos, Chiquimula and the Caribbean.

Tierra Viva works to eliminate repression and violence against women and campaigns to bring any violation of women rights to justice. The organisation has a wide scope and includes a focus on education, integrated health care, sexual and reproductive rights and all kinds of violence against women.

Tierra Viva’s work with women’s sexual and reproductive rights is both local and national but sexual rights are difficult to promote in Guatemala, which still has a very conservative attitude towards such issues. Tierra Viva create networks of women, midwifes and younger girls who work to help strengthen local women’s groups. This also means working in co-ordination with other local movements, including feminist movements, indigenous movements and public health services.

One of their main projects is based in Chiquimula, a region where the State is noticeably absent and there is an enormous lack of public services. Women in this area suffer from high levels of physical, sexual and economic violence. Birth rates are high. Tierra Viva has a network of around 80 women who work in this region, visiting communities and offering healthcare and education.

Tierra Viva also mounts initiatives to raise awareness of violence against women and the need to challenge a culture of ‘machismo’. As far as possible they try to include men in their group work. However, it is a challenge getting women to attend the meetings, as young girls and women in relationships do not have the same freedom as men or boys to leave the house and participate in such groups. The majority of the women who attend Tierra Viva’s group meetings are single mothers or single women. This is because women who are in relationships must often sacrifice their freedom and autonomy, given that the culture in Guatemala is repressive for women. Frequently, it seems, the price of freedom for women is being single.

The current political climate is unfavourable for women’s rights organisations and movements, and even though the Vice-President is a woman, her party has been linked to serious human rights violations. There is also a low representation of women in political positions. In 2007, women only made up 12% of government representatives and this number grew by just 2% for this year. Of the 44 women who have political roles, only 4 of these are indigenous women.

Indigenous women are not only conspicuously absent from the political scene, but they frequently seem segregated. They often live in rural and remote areas, meaning that access to social services, healthcare and a formal education, including sexual education is limited. This translates into high rates of unwanted pregnancies, maternal mortality and large numbers of children. Indigenous women also face racism and discrimination, and are less likely to be independent and allowed to make their own choices.

Language can also be a barrier when it comes to receiving health care, social security or having access to the courts. Public policies do not recognise cultural diversity and so little provision is made for providing interpreting or translation services to the indigenous communities. In Guatemala, emphasis is often placed on preserving culture and tradition, but this can mean keeping women bound to a traditional role, something that Tierra Viva is fighting vigorously to change.

For more information about Organizacion de Mujeres Tierra Viva’s work please see:http://www.tierra-viva.org/

For details about Tierra Viva’s march for International Women’s Day please see:

BOLETIN INFORMATIVO 8_DE MARZO-1.pdf

 


ENCUESTA  

CUALES SON LAS METAS Y LOS CAMBIOS QUE QUIEREN LOGRAR

 

Le comparto el objetivo, la visión y misión de AMOIXQUIC, que aquí se centra nuestros máximos deseos

amoixquicLa Asociación de Mujeres de Occidente Ixquic  AMOIXQUIC nace desde el Foro de la Mujer en 1997 y se legaliza en el año 2004, ésta se define como una organización de mujeres mayas y mestizas que se ha gestado y desarrollado en el  occidente de Guatemala, que se sustenta en los procesos organizativos, de formación, de participación y crecimiento individual y colectivo de mujeres, que aun y cuando sobreviven en condiciones de pobreza y extrema pobreza, buscan de manera consciente y de forma articulada transformar la realidad de opresión, discriminación y exclusión que afrontan en el ámbito familiar, comunitario, municipal y regional, contribuyendo así a la equidad y respeto a la vida.

Misión:   Incidir en la cotidianidad individual y colectiva de las mujeres a través de procesos de formación y sanación personal, empoderamiento humano, étnico y cultural, económico y político, para que desde sus potencialidades y saberes resurjan y avancen hacia el ejercicio de una ciudadanía activa para la defensa y cumplimiento pleno de sus derechos colectivos y específicos como mujeres, sustentándose en la creación y recreación de valores, pensamientos, actitudes prácticas y propuestas que les permita alcanzar su desarrollo integral con equidad de género.

Visión:  Ser un movimiento organizado y autónomo de mujeres que desde el Occidente de Guatemala, incide en la calidad humana y realización de las mujeres en el ámbito personal, familiar, comunal, municipal, departamental y regional, que avanza hacia su legitimidad, representatividad y posicionamiento en la región.

 Objetivo general:   Contribuir a transformar las relaciones de desigualdad, inequidad, opresión,  racismo y exclusión que afrontan las mujeres de la región  en el ámbito personal, familiar, social, económico, político y cultural, amparadas en la legislación nacional, acuerdos, convenios y tratados internacionales.

2.    CÓMO ESTAN TRABAJANDO PARA LOGRAR SUS METAS:

Para el alcance de metas  se ejecutan los siguientes Programas:
Programa no violencia contra la mujer y cultura de Paz
Programa de empoderamiento económico de las mujeres 
Programa gestión e incidencia en políticas públicas localesPrograma de promoción de la identidad étnica, cultural y de género.

Por falta de recursos por el momento no se esta trabajando el Programa de empoderamiento económico de las mujeres, pero éste es urgente por la crisis económica generalizada y que afecta más a los grupos vulnerables como es el caso de las mujeres.

  1. CUALES SON LOS MAYORES RETOS QUE SE ENFRENTAN ACTUALMENTE

En el tema de la violencia, deseamos que el Sistema de Justicia sea funcional, que aplique la legislación vigente a favor de las mujeres, y de esta forma ir eliminando   la IMPUNIDAD.Por el lado de las mujeres  deseamos que la cultura de la denuncia cada día aumente, que las mujeres pierdan el miedo y denuncien cuando sus derechos sean violados.

Otro desafío radica en atender  las necesidades económicas de las mujeres, ya que están preocupadas por la sobre vivencia cotidiana, y muchas veces dejan de participar en procesos de formación y participación, y buscan formas de agenciarse de algún dinero

 

Otro desafío institucional es el retiro de la Cooperación Internacional   de Guatemala, y las que quedan están priorizando otras temáticas, dejando fuera  el trabajo con mujeres.

Por la naturaleza de AMOIXQUIC, en este caso que es eminentemente social, no logramos la autosostenibilidad financiera.  Y tenemos mucho trabajo que hacer pero dependemos de la Cooperación.

  1. ESTAN TRABAJANDO TAMBIÉN CON PROYECTOS PARA MUJERES INDÍGENAS.

AMOIXQUIC, trabaja con mujeres en general, pero el trabajo por el área geográfica esta más centrado con mujeres Mayas.

Existen diferencias para trabajar con mujeres indígenas efectivamente, porque la metodología debe ir en función de la realidad, la condición y posición  de la población.

A nivel de Estado existen algunas instituciones  que apoyan a las  mujeres y pueblos indígenas para ir superando las diferentes discriminaciones que se sufren, pero éstas no son suficientes y muchas veces no cumplen  a cabalidad sus funciones.  Algunos informes indican que algunas instituciones del Estado son quienes violan los derechos y discriminan.

  1. HA CAMBIADO EL PAPEL DE LAS MUJERES ACTUALMENTE?

Efectivamente en papel de las mujeres ha venido cambiando, ya que las mismas mujeres han venido buscando espacios de participación, de capacitación y se han involucrado en espacios antes exclusivos para hombres.  Esto ha tenido un costo a las propias mujeres ya que siguen jugando sus roles  tradicionales y se han sumado estos nuevos.  Los procesos de formación son los que han permitido a las mujeres reconocerse con seres humanas y capaces de realizar lo que se proponen.  Todas las mujeres hacen esfuerzos pero las mujeres indígenas se les multiplica ese esfuerzo por el hecho de ser indígenas y lo que implica ser indígena.

For further information about AMOIXQUIC, see http://es-la.facebook.com/AMOIXQUIC

English Translation

AMOIXQUIC, the Ixquic Association for Women in Western Guatemala was formed during the Women’s Forum in 1997 and legally consolidated in 2004. This organisation works specifically with Mayan and Mestizo women in the western region of Guatemala who are living in conditions of poverty. Through training and participation in programmes both individually and collectively, they aim to help change the conditions of oppression, discrimination and exclusion women face at local and regional levels, as well as in their families and communities.

AMOIXQUIC’s mission is to empower women so that they can reach their maximum potential whilst ensuring their equal rights and active participation as citizens. Their vision is to form an organised and autonomous women’s movement that allows women to be represented in the region and to have a legitimate voice. Their principal aim is to combat the inequality, oppression, racism and exclusion that women in the region suffer in the social, economical, political and cultural realms, by employing legislation, international agreements and treaties that protects women’s rights.

To achieve these aims, the organization is working on the following projects-
– To eliminate violence against women and promote a peaceful culture.
– To empower women economically.
– To manage the effects of local public policies.
– To promote an ethnic, cultural and gender specific identity.
Currently due to a lack of resources, AMOIXQUIC are unable to run the empowering women economically programme. However this work is urgently needed due to the economic crisis, which affects women in particular.
One of the greatest challenges the organisation faces is the reluctance of women to denounce crimes committed against them. Impunity is another major obstacle, as the justice system often fails to apply the current legislation. Due to the current severe economic crisis less women are attending training programmes, as they are too preoccupied with daily survival to participate. The withdrawal of international cooperation in Guatemala means other issues are being prioritised and women’s rights are being largely ignored. Funding is an urgent challenge.
AMOIXQUIC states that indigenous women receive some support from government institutions, but this is rarely enough and these institutions often do not fulfil their duties. There are some reports that show it is the state institutions themselves who are responsible for discrimination and rights violations.
According to the organisation, women’s roles have extended in the past years as they have been participating and receiving training in areas, which were previously only reserved for men. Nevertheless, this has meant an extra load for women, given that they must now balance their traditional roles alongside the added work of their newfound responsibilities.