Women Work Together

Mission Statement Women Work Together supports women and girls in highland Guatemala in their efforts toward gender equality, focusing on girls' access to education. Our mission is to raise the socio-economic status of Guatemalan women and girls by cultivating and strengthening their ability to work effectively in groups and aspire to leadership, thus accelerating positive changes in their lives and in their communities. We believe that the cycle of poverty and powerlessness endemic to rural Mayan women can be broken through systemic grassroots change that values and invests in girls' education and leadership. To accomplish this, we have taken an uncommon path in Latin America, partnering ...
Jul 1, 2015

What's Up on the Ground in San Pedro Sacatepequez

Mother/Daughter Teamwork
Mother/Daughter Teamwork

Guatemala’s school year begins in January and ends in October. This year approximately 650 teen girls and 170 eight and nine year old girls are participating in WWT’s Girls Leadership Institute. And that’s not counting their mothers, families, teachers and community leaders who all play important roles in the GLI programs throughout the year.

Here’s the part that warms the heart.

Over 450 mothers attended kickoff programs at the beginning of this school year that ADIMTU developed especially for mothers of the 7th and 8th grade girls in our level 1 and level 2 programs, La Vida de Mi Mamá (My Mother’s Life) and La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time).

These workshops are part of a stepped-up program that enlists mothers as primary allies in support of their daughters’ staying in school. The program also motivates them to advocate for girls education in their communities.

Mothers reported overwhelmingly that they came away from the workshops with a better understanding of how their daughters are benefitting from participating in the Girls Leadership Institute and staying in school.

“My dream,” said one mother, “is for my daughter to stay in school and become a professional so she can lead an easier life than I have had. I have always worked in the field, working very hard, long days, because I never had a chance to go to school. I want her life to be different.”

Here’s the part that gives us hope.

Forty-one educators representing all thirteen rural middle schools where our Girls Leadership Institute is operating attended a day-long workshop on The Importance of Self Esteem in the Process of Teaching and Learning. Sponsored by ADIMTU, our Guatemalan partner. The program was presented by clinical psychologist, Dr. Carlos Grijalva Barrios.

This comment by Prof. Julio Maranda, a school principal from the village of San Pedro Petz, was representative, “. . . the theme of self-esteem seemed very important and interesting to us because we are aware that women in our culture take second, third, fourth place. The opportunity to study gives them a chance to equip themselves to obtain the same opportunities (as men) but as teachers we need to understand how their self-esteem is, how ours is, what our feelings and emotions are and, above all, how we want the girls to have what so many Guatemalans are lacking, good mental health.”

Here’s why the future looks bright.

WWT and ADIMTU’s goal is for the Girls Leadership Institute to become part of the regular curriculum in Guatemalan middle schools, potentially under the auspices of the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDU). In support of this goal, local educators confirm that GLI programs and activities are aligned with national curriculum goals and could easily be incorporated. The real excitement is that each successive meeting with MINEDU seems to make this increasingly likely.

In May, WWT Program Director, Wendy Baring Gould, went to San Pedro where she and the ADIMTU team met with key people in the MINEDU of San Marcos to deepen their understanding of the work of the Girls Leadership Institute

Jose Inebal, MINEDU’s Director of Básico (middle school) for the state of San Marcos where San Pedro Sacetepequez is located, has since written a strong letter of support emphasizing his department’s interest in bringing the Leadership Institute programs to other rural middle schools across San Marcos. Olga Monterroso, the Director of MINEDU in San Marcos stated that, “…I believe that the Girls Leadership Institute is making an important contribution to the quality of education as well as keeping a significant number of girls in school.” In her remarks, she also emphasized the importance of taking these programs into more communities across San Marcos. She expressed her willingness to help in that regard, beginning by providing a letter as well, stating that she is very impressed with the programs and will do whatever she can to support both the ongoing work and its expansion into additional middle schools.

Our vision is that, as training proceeds and local teachers take over, they will incorporate the programs and their inherently participatory learning strategies into their classrooms, beginning with La Vida and adding each next-level program in subsequent years.

See what we mean about an exciting, bright future?

Whirlwind Week for WWT Program Director in SPS

In addition to meeting with key partners at MINEDUC San Marcos, Wendy Baring Gould worked intensively with the ADIMTU team during her May trip, both to review the program as it’s operating now and to plan for advances in 2016.

These will include the development and piloting of a teacher training program in 8 of our SPS middle schools. The goal is to transfer Leadership Institute implementation to classroom teachers rather change agents in order to subsequently expand cost-effectively and sustainably into schools across the state.

SPS teachers, school directors and supervisors of básico, most of whom have been part of our work from the start, attended a productive working session that generated many useful inputs and recommendations to inform this plan.

And, because life is not always about business, Wendy, on behalf of Women Work Together, treated the whole ADIMTU team - staff, interns, board and their families - to a Third Annual Fiesta de Familia with books for each of the kids (toddlers to teens), Chocolove bars made in Boulder for the adults, and ice cream and other refreshments for everyone. Of course, no party in Guatemala is complete without lots of balloons, too, – lots of them!,

Wendy reports that the most wonderful highlight of the afternoon were the many heartfelt remarks from men in the group, the husbands, sons and brothers of the ADIMTU team who, one after another, shared how much the women’s work with girls not only meant to San Pedro, but also the profound and positive impact it was having on each of them and their own families. Now that has to make your heart sing!

Two new videos to let people know what you care about

Ever wish there was a convenient and engaging way to share the story of Women Work Together in Guatemala, post it, tweet it or otherwise tell your friends and family what you care about?

Here is just that video. Produced by Board member, Jerrie Hurd, this short piece introduces the girls in San Pedro, their moms and teachers and describes how Women Work Together is making a difference in their lives. Special thanks to Terrianne Steinhauer for generously donating her professional voiceover time, talent and audio studio to this project. Watching it is almost guaranteed to leave you smiling.

This video is also featured on our homepage and is available on YouTube. Please take a look and share it with others.

Direct from San Pedro

This video, produced by the team at ADIMTU and San Pedro’s local television station, is a more nuanced presentation of the importance and impact of the Girls Leadership Institute on the ground there. Told from the local point of view and, most tellingly, thru the voices and viewpoints of the girls themselves, this video really takes you there and is an excellent companion to WWT’s concise snapshot.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of WWT volunteer translators Jazmin Levis and Diana Wilson and technical wizard Larry Walker, this 20-minute trip to San Pedro Sacatepéquez now has English subtitles.

Watch it here, at our website or on YouTube. Let us know what you think!

Girls in the Classroom
Girls in the Classroom
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)

Links:

Jul 1, 2015

What's Up on the Ground in San Pedro Sacatepequez

Mother/Daughter Teamwork
Mother/Daughter Teamwork

Guatemala’s school year begins in January and ends in October. This year approximately 650 teen girls and 170 eight and nine year old girls are participating in WWT’s Girls Leadership Institute. And that’s not counting their mothers, families, teachers and community leaders who all play important roles in the GLI programs throughout the year.

Here’s the part that warms the heart.

Over 450 mothers attended kickoff programs at the beginning of this school year that ADIMTU developed especially for mothers of the 7th and 8th grade girls in our level 1 and level 2 programs, La Vida de Mi Mamá (My Mother’s Life) and La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time).

These workshops are part of a stepped-up program that enlists mothers as primary allies in support of their daughters’ staying in school. The program also motivates them to advocate for girls education in their communities.

Mothers reported overwhelmingly that they came away from the workshops with a better understanding of how their daughters are benefitting from participating in the Girls Leadership Institute and staying in school.

“My dream,” said one mother, “is for my daughter to stay in school and become a professional so she can lead an easier life than I have had. I have always worked in the field, working very hard, long days, because I never had a chance to go to school. I want her life to be different.”

Here’s the part that gives us hope.

Forty-one educators representing all thirteen rural middle schools where our Girls Leadership Institute is operating attended a day-long workshop on The Importance of Self Esteem in the Process of Teaching and Learning. Sponsored by ADIMTU, our Guatemalan partner. The program was presented by clinical psychologist, Dr. Carlos Grijalva Barrios.

This comment by Prof. Julio Maranda, a school principal from the village of San Pedro Petz, was representative, “. . . the theme of self-esteem seemed very important and interesting to us because we are aware that women in our culture take second, third, fourth place. The opportunity to study gives them a chance to equip themselves to obtain the same opportunities (as men) but as teachers we need to understand how their self-esteem is, how ours is, what our feelings and emotions are and, above all, how we want the girls to have what so many Guatemalans are lacking, good mental health.”

Here’s why the future looks bright.

WWT and ADIMTU’s goal is for the Girls Leadership Institute to become part of the regular curriculum in Guatemalan middle schools, potentially under the auspices of the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDU). In support of this goal, local educators confirm that GLI programs and activities are aligned with national curriculum goals and could easily be incorporated. The real excitement is that each successive meeting with MINEDU seems to make this increasingly likely.

In May, WWT Program Director, Wendy Baring Gould, went to San Pedro where she and the ADIMTU team met with key people in the MINEDU of San Marcos to deepen their understanding of the work of the Girls Leadership Institute

Jose Inebal, MINEDU’s Director of Básico (middle school) for the state of San Marcos where San Pedro Sacetepequez is located, has since written a strong letter of support emphasizing his department’s interest in bringing the Leadership Institute programs to other rural middle schools across San Marcos. Olga Monterroso, the Director of MINEDU in San Marcos stated that, “…I believe that the Girls Leadership Institute is making an important contribution to the quality of education as well as keeping a significant number of girls in school.” In her remarks, she also emphasized the importance of taking these programs into more communities across San Marcos. She expressed her willingness to help in that regard, beginning by providing a letter as well, stating that she is very impressed with the programs and will do whatever she can to support both the ongoing work and its expansion into additional middle schools.

Our vision is that, as training proceeds and local teachers take over, they will incorporate the programs and their inherently participatory learning strategies into their classrooms, beginning with La Vida and adding each next-level program in subsequent years.

See what we mean about an exciting, bright future?

Whirlwind Week for WWT Program Director in SPS

In addition to meeting with key partners at MINEDUC San Marcos, Wendy Baring Gould worked intensively with the ADIMTU team during her May trip, both to review the program as it’s operating now and to plan for advances in 2016.

These will include the development and piloting of a teacher training program in 8 of our SPS middle schools. The goal is to transfer Leadership Institute implementation to classroom teachers rather change agents in order to subsequently expand cost-effectively and sustainably into schools across the state.

SPS teachers, school directors and supervisors of básico, most of whom have been part of our work from the start, attended a productive working session that generated many useful inputs and recommendations to inform this plan.

And, because life is not always about business, Wendy, on behalf of Women Work Together, treated the whole ADIMTU team - staff, interns, board and their families - to a Third Annual Fiesta de Familia with books for each of the kids (toddlers to teens), Chocolove bars made in Boulder for the adults, and ice cream and other refreshments for everyone. Of course, no party in Guatemala is complete without lots of balloons, too, – lots of them!,

Wendy reports that the most wonderful highlight of the afternoon were the many heartfelt remarks from men in the group, the husbands, sons and brothers of the ADIMTU team who, one after another, shared how much the women’s work with girls not only meant to San Pedro, but also the profound and positive impact it was having on each of them and their own families. Now that has to make your heart sing!

Two new videos to let people know what you care about

Ever wish there was a convenient and engaging way to share the story of Women Work Together in Guatemala, post it, tweet it or otherwise tell your friends and family what you care about?

Here is just that video. Produced by Board member, Jerrie Hurd, this short piece introduces the girls in San Pedro, their moms and teachers and describes how Women Work Together is making a difference in their lives. Special thanks to Terrianne Steinhauer for generously donating her professional voiceover time, talent and audio studio to this project. Watching it is almost guaranteed to leave you smiling.

This video is also featured on our homepage and is available on YouTube. Please take a look and share it with others.

Direct from San Pedro

This video, produced by the team at ADIMTU and San Pedro’s local television station, is a more nuanced presentation of the importance and impact of the Girls Leadership Institute on the ground there. Told from the local point of view and, most tellingly, thru the voices and viewpoints of the girls themselves, this video really takes you there and is an excellent companion to WWT’s concise snapshot.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of WWT volunteer translators Jazmin Levis and Diana Wilson and technical wizard Larry Walker, this 20-minute trip to San Pedro Sacatepéquez now has English subtitles.

Watch it here, at our website or on YouTube. Let us know what you think!

Girls in the Classroom
Girls in the Classroom
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)
Meeting MINEDUC Director, San Marcos (white skirt)

Links:

Mar 25, 2015

EXPANSION - INCLUSION - CAPACITY BUILDING - EVALUA

Progress and Accomplishments – 2014

Women Work Together (WWT), in collaboration with our Guatemalan partners at ADIMTU (Asociación de Desarrollo Integral: Mujeres Trabajan Unidas), set out to accomplish three ambitious goals during 2014:

  1. To dramatically shift program management, execution and development to the team at ADIMTU.
  2. To expand the Girls Leadership Institute programs for girls, their parents and teachers into all 13 rural middle schools of San Pedro Sacatepéquez.
  3. To institute a longitudinal evaluation program to assess the effectiveness of the interventions.

We can report that great strides have been made toward achieving each of these goals:

  • ADIMTU staff is firmly at the helm of an increasingly effective program, working with over 800 girls, their parents and teachers.
  • Beginning February, 2014, at the start of the Guatemalan school year, all three Leadership Institute programs were fully operational in all 13 rural middle schools.
  • An in-depth, three year, longitudinal evaluation program was launched, staff was trained in data collection and coding, and completed these as planned.
  • ADIMTU received significant support and commendation from external institutions including the Federal Ministry of Education.
  • The ADIMTU Board and staff brought all operations into line with Guatemala’s new fiscal and legal requirements for NGOs.
  • ADIMTU staff and Board applied directly to local and international funders for financial underwriting.
  • ADIMTU staff completed a comprehensive internal review and generated the organization’s strategic operating plan for 2015.

Transfer of Program Ownership and Implementation

Coming into 2013, the ADIMTU staff began to take the lead in all aspects of the work, as the emphasis of WWT’s twice yearly visits to San Pedro shifted from program development and delivery to technical assistance, capacity building, along with financial support. This transfer was completed successfully during 2014 and culminated with the ADIMTU team’s December trip to Boulder for two weeks of staff development, strategic planning and face-to-face meetings that strengthened existing relationships and forged valuable new ones.

The ADIMTU staff is fully implementing a comprehensive, sequential set of activities for all girls in grades 7, 8, and 9 in 13 rural middle schools across San Pedro Sacatepéquez. They planned and led 3 teacher workshops for the 50 plus teachers and administrators who support the programs in their schools, along with a series of workshops for mothers and fathers of the participating girls. With the guidance and encouragement of WWT Program Director, Wendy Baring-Gould, in her periodic onsite visits and regular skype meetings with the team, ADIMTU has grown significantly in competence and confidence, and they are leading the program with skill, dedication and professionalism.

Refinements in Program Design

The advent of the 2014 school year in February marked a significant shift in program design and implementation. Rather than being a pullout program as before, the Girls Leadership Institute moved to a saturation model, with all girls at each rural middle school participating in the Leadership Institute for all three years. Each grade-level curriculum (The Life of My Mother, Family Reading Time and My Little Sister) is taught by ADIMTU field staff in two classroom session per month over the 10 months of the school year, extended via collaboration with teachers who incorporate activities related to the programs into their classrooms. During January and February ADIMTU staff worked closely with these teachers to verify that Institute programs indeed dovetail with existing national educational goals and objectives.

The Girls Leadership Institute is the banner that defines all of ADIMTU’s work. This extends to outreach to and education for all members of the girls’ educational community/support system: parents, teachers, community leaders, etc. ADIMTU hired an additional outreach worker in January to help implement this more broad-based and intensive contact strategy. The ADIMTU staff now totals 5 full-time professionals (all women) and one part time data manager in addition to the 5 – 10 university level interns who support the work each year (women and men, working together).

Program Evaluation

An informal but especially significant measure of our success is the fact that after only 2 years of piloting, the programs of The Leadership Institute have been welcomed into all 13 SPS rural middle schools. In a very short time, ADIMTU’s work has evolved from occasional programs and activities outside of school to one in which teachers are setting aside class time for ADIMTU staff to work directly with all of the girls in all 3 grades. As reported by teachers and school directors, attendance and retention are improving, girls are more engaged in the classroom and attitudes among parents and community leaders about the merits of educating girls are changing. The girls themselves consistently report that they see the connection between success in school and a better future for themselves and their families. There is clear and consistent anecdotal data from all quarters to suggest that this work is indeed changing lives. And now we are poised to demonstrate this with quantitative data as well.

During 2014 Women Work Together initiated a three-year longitudinal evaluation of changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the girls participating in Leadership Institute programs, as compared those in a control group in an adjacent community. Data will be used to monitor program success, guide changes, and support applications for future funding. This evaluation program is led and overseen by RoseMarie Perez-Foster, PhD, a WWT Board member and Senior Research Associate, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado at Boulder. The design includes written pre and post tests given each year to each girl. These measure self- efficacy, self-esteem, language fluency and desire to continue their education. Results from this first year’s data will be available in March 2015. Preliminary data was available and used to inform program planning for the 2015 school year.

External Recognition and Support

Since its establishment in 2012, ADIMTU has become known as an agent of community change. As such, the staff is often called upon to do workshops or presentations on the importance of educating girls and the impacts doing so will have on families, communities and the country. They are frequent presenters on local TV, and are becoming known as conduits for innovative programming directed at San Pedro communities with the core message: Send Your Daughter to School. This role is sure to expand over time as financial support and staff time allow. Examples from 2014 include:

  • ADIMTU has been awarded national accreditation from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education for the comprehensive Girls Leadership Institute. They are one of only twelve organizations certified to deliver educational programming in the schools during the school day.  This followed a year-long program review that included field visits by Ministry officials, written applications and in-depth workshops. 
  • The Ministry of Education is collaborating in our longitudinal evaluation, using all 13 ADIMTU schools as demonstration sites in developing its new, reading fluency exam and agreeing to share this data with ADIMTU.
  • The Fundación Juan Bautista Guitiérrez, a long-established and highly regarded Guatemalan foundation dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable communities, including programs for teens on reproductive health, agreed to partner with ADIMTU and spent a month working with students in 10 of ADIMTU's middle school sites during the school vacation in November 2013 and will do so again in November 2014.
  • The Kenoli Foundation has invited and underwritten costs for ADIMTU staffer to attend a 3-day professional development workshop in Honduras to network with like organizations and meet other prospective funders.

The Impact

The programs of the Girls Leadership Institute are active in all 13 rural schools of San Pedro, and include all the girls who attend middle school in each community. This saturation model is designed to change not only individual girls, but also the community’s overarching attitudes about the value of sending girls to school. These changes must start with the girls themselves, as their role models are their mothers, who grew up in a different time and were prepared to live lives that are no longer viable in Guatemala’s changing economic environment. Today’s girls need to see themselves in a new light, to understand that they have the capacity to change the lives they lead, and to demonstrate that possibility to their families and their communities. Every activity of the Girls Leadership Institute is designed to foster that change.

In addition to the direct response from the girls, teachers and parents, anecdotal data from community members familiar with the program report that the girls who are participating in the Leadership Institute understand that they have personal capacity and opportunity to create positive futures for themselves and their own families. In the communities where ADIMTU is working, the incidence of early pregnancy as well as the number of girls lured into human trafficking is significantly reduced. The girls themselves have an enhanced sense of their own value and are proving the truth of the Institute’s motto: Educated Girls Can Change the Future.

Individuals Served Directly during 2014

Middle school girls 13 –17 years old                                    630

Primary girls in Mi Hermanita program                                 250

Parents of middle school girls                                              800

Parents of primary girls                                                        325

Teachers & directors in middle schools                                 50

Teachers & directors in primary schools                                80

Total Individuals                                                                 2,135    

Fiscal and Legal Infrastructure

Under the leadership of the ADIMTU Board, comprehensive steps have been taken to bring ADIMTU in compliance with the newly adopted fiscal and legal requirements of Guatemala’s federal government which pertain to associations of their type. This has involved working with an in-country CPA and auditor to formalize staff benefits, develop and implement extremely accurate accounting practices which track all expenditure with signed receipts, and create complete financial reports available for review.

Fundraising

During this past year, ADIMTU staff has independently generated four proposals to prospective funders which prefer to fund in-country. Two of these have been positively received and two others are still under review. In addition, they have hosted three site visits by program officers from prospective funders and managed these visits with very positive results. Coached and encouraged by WWT in these endeavors, the staff there has developed a firm understanding of the process and has been rewarded for their efforts. This newfound capacity helps to position the organization to move forward, post-2015, independent of WWT’s support. A central goal for 2015 is to strengthen prospects for sustainability on the ground.

We thank you for helping to make 2014 such a successful year. Without your support, these gains would not have been possible.

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