Women in Action (MeA) – Guatemala

Women in Action (MeA) – Guatemala

07 Feb, 2013 - By

MeA works primarily with rural indigenous women organized into groups of 15 – 30 members, living in the highland region of Guatemala. It offers services to men as well, and has one group composed only of men (Paquip). All MeA members are primarily subsistence farmers. Many supplement their income through micro-enterprise activities, such as weaving and growing produce for the market. Weaving is rarely profitable but valued as a culturally important activity and a potential source of income. Incomes from farming vary depending on access to land (almost all women rent), and markets. The majority of MeA members live below the Guatemalan poverty line, though some of the more established MeA groups have leveraged credit to expand cash crop farming & substantially improve incomes. The communities where MeA works were among the most heavily affected by violence during the Guatemalan civil war.

Location

Departments of Chimaltenango, Sololá, Sacatepequez in highlands of Central / Western Guatemala.

PROGRAMS

Agricultural reactivation

Support to families made food insecure through recent floods in the form of agricultural inputs, as well as training in
improved farming methods and access to subsidized farmland.

Micro-credit

Providing group and individual credits to women at low interest rates to help them establish or expand subsistence (corn & beans) and cash crop (strawberries, carrots, cabbage, etc.) agriculture. Support to other income generating activities such as weaving, selling tortillas-making, retailing. Group credits from MeA are divided into individual loans, but managed collectively. MeA also provides literacy training, as well as in basic credit management and accounting.

Community organizing

Capacity building and support to 20 women’s groups in 12 municipalities with the goal of increasing their ability to promote local development, to access resources from government and other agencies to meet their basic and community needs.

Protecting livelihoods

Training, technical support, materials and seedlings to help women’s groups plant trees around their homes and fields, in order to protect them from increasingly severe erosion and storms.

GUATEMALA

Guatemala is an ecologically and culturally rich country: 60% of the population speaks Spanish, though the government recognizes 23 languages more. Almost every municipality in the country has a small museum. Guatemala has a population of 14 million; 40% of whom are indigenous peoples. Nearly half of Guatemala’s population is under age 19. Approximately 50% of the population lives below the poverty line.

This numbers goes up to 73% in the case of first nations. Guatemala has the highest number of children with acute malnutrition in Latin America, and is number four in terms of chronically malnourished children in the world – again the majority coming from indigenous communities. Guatemala’s social indicators often fall below those of countries with lower per capita incomes (#154 in the world) because of the extreme disparities between rich and poor. The average school attendance of the adult population is 5.4 years, and just 1.9 years for the indigenous population. V
iolent crime, human and drug trafficking are increasingly significant problems in the
country.

Region of Work

MeA works primarily with indigenous Maya women – though it offers services to men as well, and has one group composed only of men (Paquip). All MeA members are primarily subsistence farmers. Many supplement their income through microenterprise activities, such as weaving and growing produce for the market. Weaving is rarely profitable but valued as a culturally important activity and a potential source of income. Incomes from farming vary depending on access to land (almost all women rent), and markets. The majority of MeA members live below the Guatemalan poverty line, though some of the more established MeA groups have leveraged credit to expand cash crop farming & substantially improve incomes. The communities where MeA works were among the most heavily affected by violence during the Guatemalan civil war.

Guatemala Canada
Population 14.4 35.1 million
Size 108 889 km2 9.9 million km2
Ranking- Human Development Index #133 in the world #11 in the world
Life Expectancy #144 in the world #13 in the world
Population below the Poverty Line 54% 9.4%
Carbon Footprint per person #152 in the world #14 in the world
Employment in Agriculture 38% 2%
Internet Users 16% 82%
Women in Parliament 13.3% 25%
Cost of Basic Needs Basket for a Family of 4 $269 $2,300
Average Monthly Minimum Wage $231 (agriculture) $1,690
GDP per capita #154 in the world #27 in the world

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