Ashmore Consulting

Women Work Together

Welcome new client Women Work Together (WWT), a Colorado nonprofit that partners with Las Hermanitas Readingits sister organization Mujeres Trabajan Unidas (MTU) in San Pedro Sacatepéquez (SPS), San Marcos, Guatemala. WWT and MTU work with local partners in Guatemala to unlock the potential of Mayan teens to stay in school, inspiring them to leadership and rallying family and community to commitment to support girls’ education.

Investing in Mayan girls is the best way to help end the cycle of poverty in Guatemala. Young teens are at the most vulnerable time of their lives for dropping out of school for early marriage and motherhood.  The overarching goal is to support the girls in:

Improved achievement and performance  in primary school, delayed motherhood and marriage, and completion of secondary school.

This is accomplished in two programs:

1) Forming Young Female Leaders (Formación de Lideresas Jóvenes) which consists of three projects:

a) Little Sisters (Las Hermanitas) 316 girls – Teens mentor younger girls in 2nd-3rd grade, helping with homework, discussing solutions to obstacles in education, and encouraging them to stay in school

b) My Mother’s Life Story (La Vida de Mi Mama) 308 girls and women – Girls interview their mothers and write their life story in diary form. Builds mother daughter bond, reminds mothers of the purpose of schooling and value of literacy, reinforces pride in daughter demonstrating reading and writing skills in an intimate shared reality.

c) Family Reading Hour (Hora de Lectura Familiar) 1144 girls and their families – Girls take home books to share with their families, according to their interests. Develops habit of reading among girls, gives illiterate families desire to learn to read through example of daughters, brings family  together on importance of literacy, gives opportunity for MTU staff and teachers to get involved with families.

 2) Leadership Institute (Institutos Básicos) Three teen girls in grades 7-9  from 16 nearby villages participate in the leadership institute to foster their participation as leaders in society. These girls go back to their villages and lead other teens as mentors to their local Las Hermanitas group.

These programs are research based with multi-generational impact and peer mentoring (3-5 years difference is the optimum age spread for mentors and mentees).  It targets the right age group — both younger girls before they are likely to leave school and teens when they are likely to drop out.

Why Girls? 

Dropout rates are high, especially for girls. Guatemala’s population is poorer and less educated than most others in Latin America (International Encyclopedia of Adolescence, Ingrid Dries-Daffner et el, Routledge, 2007). As a result, children are often forced to leave school to help provide family income. In Guatemala, school fees for tuition, textbooks, uniforms and supplies often force children to drop out of school as these expenses can easily consume a substantial percentage of a poor family’s income. When a girl in a developing country receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. (UN Population Fund, State of World Population, 1990).

Why Guatemala?

Over half of the Guatemalan population is indigenous and only 10% of poor, rural indigenous girls are enrolled in secondary school. As a result of these barriers, literacy rates among indigenous women and girls in Guatemala are among the lowest in the world. Most indigenous girls in Guatemala are Mayan and they are among the country’s most disadvantaged group with limited schooling, early marriage, frequent childbearing, and chronic poverty (Multiple disadvantages of Mayan females: The effects of gender, ethnicity, poverty and residence on education in Guatemala, Population Council Policy Research Division working paper No. 211, 2006).

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