“Girls should be able to participate in any activity they choose, without suffering discrimination” - Diana, LHI Fellow
Limitless Horizons Ixil’s five fellows, all alumnae of our Youth Development Program, have no doubt about their strength and capabilities as young women striving to complete their education and launch their careers.
For the International Day of the Girl on October 11, the fellows met in the Limitless Horizons Ixil office for a workshop on women’s rights. After defining human rights as a set of norms which ensure everyone has access to a life of dignity; Juana, Diana, Teresa, Cristina, and Regina then began to discuss the rights of women and girls. They listed the articles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as the right to life, the right to consensual marriage, and the right to education, while also acknowledging the challenges that women and girls face in their own community.
In Chajul, women traditionally have had little to no access to education. “When parents aren’t able to feed their children, they think that marrying off their daughters is the best thing they can do,” says Cristina. She goes on to say that now in Chajul, more girls are being educated than ever before; “with education, we realize that we have the power to achieve our dreams and to demand our rights. We have the ability to do many things.”
At Limitless Horizons Ixil, we are proud of our progress in reversing trends of gender inequality in Chajul. 84% of our participants’ mothers had children before age 23, compared with 19% of LHI’s Youth Development Program graduates. Last year, 100% of our middle schoolers graduated, while on average, only 16% of Chajul’s youth achieve this level of educational attainment.
During the workshop, Juana, Diana, Teresa, Cristina, and Regina exchanged ideas on themes such as freedom of expression, feminism, and choice. They defined the ten rights that they wanted to see listed in the Global Girls’ Bill of Rights, which was written for and by girls for this year’s International Day of the Girl. It will be presented to the UN later this year.
From the right to hold any type of professional position and be paid the same salary as their male counterparts, to being respected for whatever clothing they choose to wear, and being free to choose their romantic partner, Limitless Horizons Ixil’s fellows created a powerful list of rights that they are working to make a reality in their own community.
Juana, Diana, Teresa, Cristina, and Regina are currently five months into their thirteen-month paid professional development fellowships with LHI. Some of them are also studying university courses and all are implementing the leadership, communication, and female empowerment trainings in their daily lives.
A few days after the women’s rights workshop, they delivered interactive presentations on conflict resolution strategies and gender violence reduction to a group of fifty teachers from the Ixil Region.
With Limitless Horizons Ixil’s support, these five young women are shaping the next generation’s attitudes to women’s rights. Over the coming months, they will continue to grow and share their knowledge of women’s rights as they dramatize a play on adolescent domestic work, marriage, and pregnancy which will then be performed to scholars’ parents. Through engaging our scholars and the wider community on these important topics, Juana, Diana, Teresa, Cristina, and Regina are breaking barriers and embodying what female empowerment can look like. We thank you for continuing to make it possible for our scholars and alumnae to be the face of change in Chajul.