This month we celebrated International Women’s Day, a United Nations holiday celebrated worldwide to acknowledge the accomplishments that women have made and to show the importance of the rights that women deserve within their households, workplaces, and daily lives. Although women worldwide have made significant achievements in the fight for gender equality, there is still much work to be done.
In Guatemala, there are large gender disparities throughout society. For example, a common belief is that the male should be the head of the household making all of the decisions for the family with the woman working in the household taking care of the children, cooking, and cleaning. There is also often a lack of information about women’s rights including reproductive rights, and common problems such as domestic violence.
At Maya Traditions, we work to empower our artisan partners and their families through orienting them in areas such as gender equality. Through the workshops that we facilitate, we have already seen a positive change in the attitudes of our artisans and their families surrounding gender equality and the roles of women in society. A great example of this positive change is Maria’s story. Keep reading!
Meet Maria, the mother of two daughters, and one of Maya Tradition’s artisans partners in the cooperative Flor Juanera of San Juan la Laguna. The cooperative consists of 14 women artisans and is famous for creating bright and colorful backstrap textiles, with Ikat tying and natural dyeing techniques. Maria has been a part of the group for two years and she believes that participating in a cooperative has given her unique opportunities to learn new things, something she is very grateful for.
Maria has been inspired by the gender workshops. She has found the workshops to be very rewarding, both on a personal level but also in her relationship with her daughters. She has shared her new knowledge and teachings from the meetings with her daughters. Now she knows more about women’s rights, in particular she mentions the importance of the right to one’s own body. “Ellas tienen que cuidar de su cuerpo, principalmente, y como son niñas tienen que darse a respetar y respetar a otras personas para nadie les haga daño, y si las discriminan tienen conocimiento que no es bueno y puede defenderse” [They have to take care of their body, especially, and because they are children they have to have self-respect and also expect that others respect them so that nobody can hurt them, and if they are victims of discrimination then they know that it is not good and they can defend themselves]. She explains that now she feels a great responsibility as a mother to teach her daughters their rights and make them understand that they should never allow a man to control them. “Ellas tienen que salir a otros lugares, experimentar, tener más experiencias y ser mujeres libres” [They have to go to other places, have experiences and be free women].
Maria also describes that thanks to the gender workshops, the dynamics in her home have changed. “Ahora puedo salir a cualquier lugar, mi esposo no me está diciendo ‘no vayas’. Tengo más libertad con él” Getting more freedom and having a more equal relationship with her husband has made her very happy, and she is looking forward to the future.
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For more information about our community initiatives and how to donate, check out our website.