While much of the time Abriendo Oportunidades works with girl leaders and club participants, another important part of our program involves working with community members to make Guatemala safe for girls. This year five communities where the program is functioning the best were chosen to participate in a series of community mobilization and violence workshops we call “Safescaping.”
The Safescaping workshops are a unique opportunity to engage the entire community around the issue of gender-based violence, especially the safety of girls. Workshops are participatory and interactive, allowing participants to identify what they consider to be violence and how it exists in the context of their own community. We worked in groups of men, women and young people to answer a series of questions about violence including, “What forms of violence do you see in the community?” and “Who are the people who perpetuate violence?”
By listening to all of the different responses from men, women and young people, participants are able to understand the concerns and fears of the entire community. The workshops took place in five different towns covering five linguistic areas and wrapped up with community-led initiatives to end violence against women ranging from a movie showing and discussion to participatory video activities. Workshops like these provide the towns Abriendo Oportunidades works in with a special opportunity to organize themselves around girl issues and listen to what dangers exist in the community. The process has all been very exciting for us as well as we accompany the community through these activities and listen to all of the ideas from participants. In order for people to care about violence against women, it first needs to be visible and that is just what “Safescaping” does!
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Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala,