Name in English - Women in Action
Central Guatemala - Chimaltenango, Sololá, Sacatepequez
Rural indigenous women organized into groups of 15 – 30, living in the Central highland region of Guatemala.
Agricultural Reactivation: support to families, made food secure despite recent floods, in the form of agricultural inputs, as well as training in improved farming methods and access to subsidized farm land.
Micro Credit: providing group and individual credits to women at low interest rates to help them establish or expand subsistence (corn & beans) and cash crops (strawberries, carrots, cabbage, etc.), as well as other income generating activities (weaving, selling tortillas, retailing). Group credits from MeA are divided into individual loans, but managed and collected collectively. MeA also provides finanfarmer group 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, and of accessing resources from government and other agencies.
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 is an ecologically and culturally rich country: 93% of the population speaks Spanish, though the government recognizes 23 languages. Almost every municipality in the country has a small museum. Guatemala has a population of 14 million; 40% of whom are indigenous peoples. More than half of the population, lives below the poverty line. This numbers goes up to 73% for 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 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.
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 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.