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, par...
Sep 17, 2015

A Look Ahead - All Good...All Exciting!

Girls Support Each Other.
Girls Support Each Other.

As we've said from the outset, Women Work Together is all about locally-directed, sustainable change and, to use an old cliché, we are busting-our-buttons proud of ADIMTU, our in-country partners in San Pedro Sacatepéquez.

The Guatemalan team has become highly capable and resourceful in its own right. In this seven-year journey, the Girls Leadership Institute that WWT helped ADIMTU design, implement and grow has captured support from local leaders, achieved national recognition and certification, and secured buy-in from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education. ADIMTU is attracting other sustainability partners, too. And so WWT is preparing to hand over program development and expansion to ADIMTU in 2016.

Early on, WWT underwrote 100% of ADIMTU's program costs. This year, with other partners at the table, our share dropped to 75% and, in 2016, we will contribute only 50% of their budget as we step aside operationally, having met our goal to launch ADIMTU programmatically and financially from under our wing.

In order to meet our commitment and complete this transfer we must raise $55,000 by the end of this year. We're chipping away at this ambitious goal and here's where we stand now:

*    Our Patio, Paella and Jazz summer fundraiser raised $18,000!

*    That leaves $37,000 to be raised by the end of 2015.

*    We're counting on you to include WWT in your 2015 donations.

*    Assuming we make our goal, no more asks from us, ever, after this year!

More Good News

*    150 girls are completing our 3-year Girls Leadership Institute this year. During 2015 WWT worked with nearly 1,000 girls plus their mothers, families, teachers and other community leaders who all play essential roles in these programs.

*    Several WWT Board members and friends are going to San Pedro Sacatepéquez this fall to celebrate the girls' success and publically acknowledge ADIMTU's accomplishments across the municipality.

*    Wendy Baring-Gould, WWT's program director, will go to Guatemala next spring to assist with the initial pilot of a Boys Leadership Institute and a teacher training program. The goal of the boys' program is to advance gender equity and community stability while improving the capacity of boys and girls to partner as men and women to solve local problems and lift their communities out of poverty together. WWT is one of the first NGOs to recognize the importance of broadening our reach beyond girls in order to successfully effect social change in the long haul. And the teacher training is in preparation for taking all the programs to scale

Invest in Change Now

Make this your year to invest in community-driven change.  Help us reach our goal to complete a successful turnover to our Guatemalan partners.  Below is a first hand account of the impact we are having.

Changing Attitudes and Beliefs
María Alejandra Ramos, Change Agent


I want to present a personal and professional commentary about Sacuchúm, a very macho community where ADIMTU has been working for about five years. At the beginning, and for some time, the community leaders and teachers were resistant to the idea of providing the workshops to the women and girls of their community, creating obstacles or excuses so that the girls wouldn't attend or supervising and listening to the information being transmitted about gender, leadership, education, etc. Today, five years later, and in the absence of my visiting this community for two years because of my having responsibility for other schools, I've come to realize that ADIMTU is increasingly engaged in the ideals of the girls and what is even better is that the girls are more awake and aware about the changes that they want for their lives and their community, that they are more motivated and they voice their opinions without bowing their heads.

It also surprised me that the teachers, after posing some resistance, now are more committed to the projects. They help out with the delivery and pickup of books for the girls' reading, they make space available for us to work with the girls and they are flexible in providing time and a classroom specifically for ADIMTU to give our workshops. In My Little Sister, the teacher visits consistently with the teachers of the little girls in order to know about their progress. I am sure that the changes in the attitudes of the teachers and community leaders derive from the results observed in the teen girls.

Please dig deep and make a stretch donation to Women Work Together in 2015.

Links:

Sep 17, 2015

A Look Ahead - All Good...All Exciting!

Girls in the Classroom
Girls in the Classroom

As we've said from the outset, Women Work Together is all about locally-directed, sustainable change and, to use an old cliché, we are busting-our-buttons proud of ADIMTU, our in-country partners in San Pedro Sacatepéquez.

The Guatemalan team has become highly capable and resourceful in its own right. In this seven-year journey, the Girls Leadership Institute that WWT helped ADIMTU design, implement and grow has captured support from local leaders, achieved national recognition and certification, and secured buy-in from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education. ADIMTU is attracting other sustainability partners, too. And so WWT is preparing to hand over program development and expansion to ADIMTU in 2016.

Early on, WWT underwrote 100% of ADIMTU's program costs. This year, with other partners at the table, our share dropped to 75% and, in 2016, we will contribute only 50% of their budget as we step aside operationally, having met our goal to launch ADIMTU programmatically and financially from under our wing.

In order to meet our commitment and complete this transfer we must raise $55,000 by the end of this year. We're chipping away at this ambitious goal and here's where we stand now:

*    Our Patio, Paella and Jazz summer fundraiser raised $18,000!

*    That leaves $37,000 to be raised by the end of 2015.

*    We're counting on you to include WWT in your 2015 donations.

*    Assuming we make our goal, no more asks from us, ever, after this year!

More Good News

*    150 girls are completing our 3-year Girls Leadership Institute this year. During 2015 WWT worked with nearly 1,000 girls plus their mothers, families, teachers and other community leaders who all play essential roles in these programs.

*    Several WWT Board members and friends are going to San Pedro Sacatepéquez this fall to celebrate the girls' success and publically acknowledge ADIMTU's accomplishments across the municipality.

*    Wendy Baring-Gould, WWT's program director, will go to Guatemala next spring to assist with the initial pilot of a Boys Leadership Institute and a teacher training program. The goal of the boys' program is to advance gender equity and community stability while improving the capacity of boys and girls to partner as men and women to solve local problems and lift their communities out of poverty together. WWT is one of the first NGOs to recognize the importance of broadening our reach beyond girls in order to successfully effect social change in the long haul. And the teacher training is in preparation for taking all the programs to scale.

Invest in Change Now

Make this your year to invest in community-driven change.  Help us reach our goal to complete a successful turnover to our Guatemalan partners.  Below is a first hand account of the impact we are having.

Changing Attitudes and Beliefs
María Alejandra Ramos, Change Agent


I want to present a personal and professional commentary about Sacuchúm, a very macho community where ADIMTU has been working for about five years. At the beginning, and for some time, the community leaders and teachers were resistant to the idea of providing the workshops to the women and girls of their community, creating obstacles or excuses so that the girls wouldn't attend or supervising and listening to the information being transmitted about gender, leadership, education, etc. Today, five years later, and in the absence of my visiting this community for two years because of my having responsibility for other schools, I've come to realize that ADIMTU is increasingly engaged in the ideals of the girls and what is even better is that the girls are more awake and aware about the changes that they want for their lives and their community, that they are more motivated and they voice their opinions without bowing their heads.

It also surprised me that the teachers, after posing some resistance, now are more committed to the projects. They help out with the delivery and pickup of books for the girls' reading, they make space available for us to work with the girls and they are flexible in providing time and a classroom specifically for ADIMTU to give our workshops. In My Little Sister, the teacher visits consistently with the teachers of the little girls in order to know about their progress. I am sure that the changes in the attitudes of the teachers and community leaders derive from the results observed in the teen girls.

Please dig deep and make a stretch donation to Women Work Together in 2015.

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:

 
   

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