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 ...
Jun 7, 2013

March 2013 Evaluating Programs--Progress Ahead

The focus for the first two weeks of our March trip to Guatemala was to support our sister organization, Mujeres Trabajan Unidas on an in-depth evaluation of our current programs.  Board member and anthropologist Dr. Theresa Preston-Werner along with Program Director Wendy Baring-Gould led the effort.

The goal for these two weeks of program evaluation was the establishment of a baseline against which we can measure the impact of each of our three projects (Family Reading Hour, The Life of My Mother, and Little Sisters) on girls’ choices to stay in school. To do this, we needed to know about the specific family situation of each girl and her experience with our projects. We are confidant that through the use of a series of quantitative and qualitative tools to learn both the outputs and outcomes of WWT’s campaign to send and keep girls in school, we will determine the best route toward ending the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.   

Each day, our team climbed into the back of a pickup and traveled into the mountains to meet with the girls and their parents. In each school, MTU personnel met with the parents of girls who are just entering básico (junior high) in order to explain the benefits of the projects and to get their permission. They also administered a survey to all of the girls, which creates a program registry and solicits household socioeconomic status information, such as the jobs of their parents and what types of homes they live in. We can compare this information to larger community-wide statistics gathered previously in order to understand the living conditions experienced by the girls in our programs. 

The results were astounding and unexpected in some cases. In one village, the girls flat out said a project was boring. Together we worked to determine the underlying reason and potential ways to make the project more appealing. In another village we learned that the girls spoke eagerly and regularly with their parents about one project but not at all about a different project. Finally, in a third village the girls suggested an entirely new way to structure a project, which has sparked excited discussion all of us.

We witnessed the projects that we developed fifteen months ago in action and changing girls’ lives. For instance, there are eighty-five girls involved in the Little Sisters project, and of those eighty-five, only two dropped out of school last year. This is an incredible success! We have also had the good fortune to observe our MTU staff in action, and each member is as passionate, hard-working, and thoughtful as we could hope for. Our days were filled with bumpy roads, delicious chicken soup lunches, and girls who use their own free time to walk for miles just to speak with us. It doesn’t get any better than that.  

May 10, 2013

Program Grows + Girls, Moms & Teachers Love It!

Now operating in 5 villages of San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, Guatemala, Las Hermanitas – Big/Little Sisters - has added 2 new locations for the 2013 school year that began in January. Not only are new middle school girls in all 5 locations signing up to be mentors, but all of last year’s Big Sisters have re-enlisted, most choosing to work with their same Little Sister.

Recently back from nearly 5 weeks in San Pedro, Women Work Together volunteers, Wendy Baring-Gould, Program Director, and Dr. Theresa Preston-Werner, Evaluation Director, spent their first 2 weeks there visiting 16 villages to assess all our programs’ strengths and weaknesses. 

Regarding Las Hermanitas, 100% of the girls interviewed said they were excited about the project and had benefitted personally from being a Big Sister. They were clear that being mentors to their Little Sisters was a form of community service, with many indicating that this experience has contributed to their view of themselves as leaders. And, 100% of the Big Sisters reported that they’d spoken positively about Las Hermanitas with their families and friends, generating positive word-of-mouth in their village about the benefits to all of educating girls.

Thanks to our donors, and based on the girls’ feedback, each Big Sister is now equipped with a kit bag of educational materials including story and activity books plus some basic art materials. Donor generosity has also made it possible for local staff to visit each village 2x/month to run workshops with our Big Sisters, helping them generate ideas and plan activities that are engaging and focus primarily on improving their Little Sisters’ reading and math skills. Additionally, these workshops give the girls a place to work through any issues they may encounter. Staff also meets w/teachers and mothers of both Big and Little Sisters at each location to listen to their feedback and advance their support for the girls’ participation. Teachers and mothers alike report high satisfaction with the program, observing that both the younger and older girls are more successful in school and have a renewed commitment to their studies.

Mar 12, 2013

March Field Visit

Teen Leader
Teen Leader

Women Work Together came to San Pedro Sacatepéquez this month first to do two weeks of research and evaluation in 14 villages. Secondly, we are applying what we learned to workshops and institutes for girls, parents, and teachers from the schools we visited. Thirty-five girls who are now in Level 2 of the Leadership Institute gathered on Thursday for a day of activities that reinforced and advanced the work we began with this group last year.  It was exciting to see how much they’ve matured and grown in personal confidence since our last visit. Each has participated in one or more of our core projects – Family Reading Time, My Mother’s Life, Big/Little Sisters – and had a chance to share what she’d learned and consider what the experience meant to her.  Themes of leadership, education, gender and community were woven into the day, with the girls exploring these topics through different means, writing and illustrating some of their mother’s stories, making puppets and reviewing new books.

Transcribing Girls
Transcribing Girls' Stories
Puppetmaking
Puppetmaking
Evaluating New Books
Evaluating New Books

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