Abriendo Oportunidades (Creating Opportunities) is a program designed and implemented by the Population Council. The program identifies young indigenous women with potential to become mentors of safe spaces where girls ares organized in age appropriate groups and relevant content on topics like education, life skills, sexual and reproductive health, food sovereignty and prevention of all forms of violence is delivered.
Rural indigenous girls have to grow-up facing high levels of poverty, severe lack of educational opportunities and lack of female role models. One-in-five children in Guatemala is born to an adolescent girl mother (aged 15-19 years) and most of these "child mothers" are indigenous girls living in poverty.
Abriendo Oportunidades is part of a generation of programs anchored in communities that face social and economic exclusion. The program organizes girls in groups and brings them together in safe spaces to build their life skills and offer them mentoring. The program invests in educational resources for girls, stipends for mentors and, since 2018, in seed funding for mentors to develop productive projects.
Young indigenous mentors come from the same communities as girls and have started to build their own organizations, focusing on sustaining their livelihoods through female empowerment. A recent impact evaluation of the program showed positive reductions in girls' experience of physical violence at home and promise to reduce child marriage significantly.