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...
Dec 22, 2015

Transfer to Guatemalan Partners Nears Completion

ADIMTU Team Makes Change Happen Every Day
ADIMTU Team Makes Change Happen Every Day

We’re in the home stretch

In 2009 Tracy Ehlers was invited to help start a program in Guatemala’s western highlands aimed at keeping Maya girls in school and advancing their leadership skills. This became the impetus for Women Work Together and the Girls Leadership Institute. The goal was to support girls to stay in school and make better choices in their own lives, those of their families and communities, and become agents of change in the creation of a more stable civil society.

We needed early believers and generous donors, and people showed up with open hearts and open checkbooks. Thanks to them and many talented and dedicated volunteers, the Leadership Institute now operates in 13 rural middle schools across San Pedro Sacatepéquez and each year directly serves 850 girls, their extended families and their communities.

This work is now directed entirely by an outstanding team of Guatemalan professional women who staff ADIMTU, our partner organization in San Pedro. They have developed their skills and leadership abilities to the point that ADIMTU is ready to direct the program’s future on its own. As we all agreed going in, local is always better, and in 2016 Women Work Together will turn over the reins to our Guatemalan partners. Now this is success!

While Women Work Together is working to secure the resources to complete this unique and powerful transition, international funders, attracted by ADIMTU’s success and strategy for scaling up, are watching with great interest. WWT is determined to provide local leaders in San Pedro with the financial support they need to pilot program advancements in 2016 that will position them to establish a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education and secure sustainable support going forward.

We think you’ll agree that this is a rare opportunity to fully transfer the program, the organization and the leadership into local hands with the necessary backup to keep moving forward.

The shape of the future

Allies in the Ministry of Education are asking emphatically that Leadership Institute programs be replicated in other rural schools, initially across San Marcos and, potentially, nation-wide as well. To this end, ADIMTU is developing a teacher training program and piloting it in 8 middle schools during 2016. This will become the foundation for broad dissemination of this tested, and eventually teacher-led, curriculum.

Over these last six years our work in San Pedro Sacatepéquez has had a profound impact. While many schools in the region are closing their doors for lack of pupils, in the 2014 school year only five out of 667 girls in the Leadership Institute left school, three to marriage or pregnancy. Prior to the launch of this work, middle school dropout rates in San Pedro’s rural areas were near 40%, along with a significantly higher pregnancy rate.

Seeing the changes in their daughters, the girls‘ parents are making sacrifices for their education and, in growing numbers, are supporting them to go on to secondary school. The teachers and principals recognize and applaud the changing nature of these students as well. They observe first-hand the benefits of participatory education and are eager to learn about and incorporate more contemporary practices into their own classrooms.

During their 3 years in the Leadership Institute the girls come to understand and value their individual capacity, their intelligence, and their ability to set goals, make choices and make a difference in their own lives and that of their families. They learn they can dream, plan and achieve a far better future than that which was available to the generations of women who preceded them.

Girls Celebrate Leadership Institute Graduation
Girls Celebrate Leadership Institute Graduation
Big and Little Sisters Exchanging Personal Books
Big and Little Sisters Exchanging Personal Books
Three Happy and Proud Little Sisters
Three Happy and Proud Little Sisters

Links:

Dec 17, 2015

Transfer to Guatemalan Partners Nears Completion

ADIMTU Team Makes Change Happen Every Day
ADIMTU Team Makes Change Happen Every Day

We’re in the home stretch

In 2009 Tracy Ehlers was invited to help start a program in Guatemala’s western highlands aimed at keeping Maya girls in school and advancing their leadership skills. This became the impetus for Women Work Together and the Girls Leadership Institute. The goal was to support girls to stay in school and make better choices in their own lives, those of their families and communities, and become agents of change in the creation of a more stable civil society.

We needed early believers and generous donors, and people showed up with open hearts and open checkbooks. Thanks to them and many talented and dedicated volunteers, the Leadership Institute now operates in 13 rural middle schools across San Pedro Sacatepéquez and each year directly serves 850 girls, their extended families and their communities.

This work is now directed entirely by an outstanding team of Guatemalan professional women who staff ADIMTU, our partner organization in San Pedro. They have developed their skills and leadership abilities to the point that ADIMTU is ready to direct the program’s future on its own. As we all agreed going in, local is always better, and in 2016 Women Work Together will turn over the reins to our Guatemalan partners. Now this is success!

While Women Work Together is working to secure the resources to complete this unique and powerful transition, international funders, attracted by ADIMTU’s success and strategy for scaling up, are watching with great interest. WWT is determined to provide local leaders in San Pedro with the financial support they need to pilot program advancements in 2016 that will position them to establish a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education and secure sustainable support going forward.

We think you’ll agree that this is a rare opportunity to fully transfer the program, the organization and the leadership into local hands with the necessary backup to keep moving forward.

The shape of the future

Allies in the Ministry of Education are asking emphatically that Leadership Institute programs be replicated in other rural schools, initially across San Marcos and, potentially, nation-wide as well. To this end, ADIMTU is developing a teacher training program and piloting it in 8 middle schools during 2016. This will become the foundation for broad dissemination of this tested, and eventually teacher-led, curriculum.

Over these last six years our work in San Pedro Sacatepéquez has had a profound impact. While many schools in the region are closing their doors for lack of pupils, in the 2014 school year only five out of 667 girls in the Leadership Institute left school, three to marriage or pregnancy. Prior to the launch of this work, middle school dropout rates in San Pedro’s rural areas were near 40%, along with a significantly higher pregnancy rate.

Seeing the changes in their daughters, the girls‘ parents are making sacrifices for their education and, in growing numbers, are supporting them to go on to secondary school. The teachers and principals recognize and applaud the changing nature of these students as well. They observe first-hand the benefits of participatory education and are eager to learn about and incorporate more contemporary practices into their own classrooms.

During their 3 years in the Leadership Institute the girls come to understand and value their individual capacity, their intelligence, and their ability to set goals, make choices and make a difference in their own lives and that of their families. They learn they can dream, plan and achieve a far better future than that which was available to the generations of women who preceded them.

Girls Celebrate Leadership Institute Graduation
Girls Celebrate Leadership Institute Graduation
Big and Little Sisters Exchanging Personal Books
Big and Little Sisters Exchanging Personal Books
Three Happy and Proud Little Sisters
Three Happy and Proud Little Sisters

Links:

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.

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