Provide Lifesaving Support for Guatemala

Provide Lifesaving Support for Guatemala
Provide Lifesaving Support for Guatemala
Provide Lifesaving Support for Guatemala
Provide Lifesaving Support for Guatemala

The communities of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, Guatemala continue to recover from Volcano Fuego as they face the COVID-19 crisis. Here is how CARE is addressing the needs of women and girls globally at this time.

A global pandemic, hunger, and gender inequality are intensifying and colliding. If we don’t address gender inequality in the food systems and COVID response we will fail to solve the hunger pandemic, CARE said today in a newly released report.

In the report titled Left Out and Left Behind: Ignoring Women Will Prevent Us From Solving the Hunger Crisis,”  CARE interviewed more than 4500 women from 64 countries about how the pandemic is affecting their livelihoods, and ability to feed their families. The most immediate priority was food and income, and the biggest challenge is the increasing burden on women. Below are some of the report’s key findings.

Where are the Women?  

Experts estimate that if women had the same access to information and resources as men, we would feed 150 million more people every year. Gender equality must be a key part of the solution, but evidence shows there is little effort to make that happen.  

  • 73 Global reports were published by funders and policy makers that propose solutions to the hunger pandemic.  
  • 34 NEVER reference women 
  • 0 reports provide data showing the difference in women's experiences  
  • only 5 reports propose concrete actions to resolve the inequality that is crippling the food system  

“If our global and local response to COVID19 perpetuates the status quo we will likely end up with a hunger pandemic among those already suffering from food insecurity. Women are already experiencing this,” Tonya Rawe CARE  Director, Global Food and Nutrition Security Advocacy said. “We will lose the chance to build back a sustainable, inclusive and equitable food system. We will lose our chance to invest in women. We can’t lose this chance to get things right, for today and for tomorrow.”

Women and girls are affected by the COVID19 pandemic especially as it relates to food insecurity. Women carry the economic burden of buying food for the family, while also doing more than 75% of the unpaid work, such as cleaning and child care. 

Food insecurity is already hitting women in severe ways. Women eat less and last. CARE is already seeing this tendency in the COVID19 pandemic. In Bangladesh, for example, 33 percent of women cut down on their own food intake in an attempt to hold on to their savings.

“During a public health crisis, women lose their rights, their economic gains, their wellbeing and even their lives when policymakers do not recognize these gendered differences, whether through ignorance or choice.” Rawe said. “When women are not at the decision-making table, and when researchers do not disaggregate information by gender, everyone loses—women and girls most of all. This is why we recommend The UN appoint a women's rights group to the Advisory Committee for the UN Food Systems Summit in 2021. The committee currently does not include any representation from women's groups. To solve this hunger crisis that needs to change.”


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Credit Daniel Romana, CARE
Credit Daniel Romana, CARE

The communities of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, Guatemala continue to recover from Volcano Fuego as they face the COVID-19 crisis. Here is how CARE is addressing the needs of women and girls in Latin American and the Caribbean at this time.

Women and girls across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are facing a terrifying mix of, increased domestic violence, increased care burden, lower access to income and jobs, and potential social unrest as a result of the coronavirus outbreaks finds a new CARE International and UN Women joint report.

The LAC region has the highest levels of inequality in the world, with wide gaps in living standards across countries, regions, sectors, and socioeconomic spheres. When coupled with the pervasive gender inequality that persists, the response to Covid-19 in LAC becomes immeasurably more complicated.

CARE International and UN Women joined forces in Latin America, and the Caribbean (LAC) produced a publication titled "Rapid Gender Analysis in COVID-19 Emergency in LAC", which presents a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring a more effective gender-inclusive response in the region.

The Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) for COVID-19 is a tool designed to provide information about the different needs, risks, capacities, and coping strategies of women, men, boys, girls, and gender-diverse people during the COVID-19 crisis. This RGA is part of the iterative RGA process for the LAC region and is intended as a programming tool for humanitarian actors.

"The COVID-19 crisis is exposing and will deepen historical socioeconomic inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean," said Tatiana Bertolucci, Regional Director for CARE USA's Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Region "Indigenous, afro-descendant and displaced women and girls are most vulnerable because they employed in areas such as the service sectors, which have been hit hard by the pandemic. This means that they are most likely to lose their jobs, lose their access to any income and will be less protected by social welfare systems, and let's not forget that women are also most often caretakers of the sick, elderly and kids. Because so many depend on them, women's disempowerment often has a domino effect within families and communities."

Disease outbreaks affect people of different genders differently. During these crises, under-resourced social protection and health systems are generally unable to keep up with the pace of need. This exacerbates pre-existing gender and intersectional inequalities, as it disproportionately impacts those who are already struggling to access resources – especially women, girls, and gender-diverse people from at-risk or marginalized groups. Recognizing the different ways these disease outbreaks affect people of different genders and at-risk groups are fundamental to understanding the full impacts of health emergencies and to creating effective, appropriate, equitable responses.  

As the situation worsens and the economic recovery remains lengthy and uncertain, the possibility of social unrest and an increase in crime is likely to contribute to physical and sexual violence against women.

"It is important to remember that violence against women and girls was already the world's most widespread human rights violation of pandemic proportions even before the pandemic," said María Noel Vaeza, Regional Director for UN Women in the Americas and the Caribbean. "In Latin America and the Caribbean, it affects on average 1 in 3 women throughout their lives. The root causes of this violence are gender inequality and discrimination, as well as the harmful social norms and masculinities still in place and the high levels of tolerance and impunity in our societies. The Rapid Gender Analysis offers concrete, practical recommendations for gender equality in humanitarian programming."

Lockdowns have resulted in an alarming increase in reports of gender-based violence, including femicide, early pregnancy, and other forms of sexual assault and abuse. While some countries have set up mechanisms to prevent and address domestic violence, others where the situation for women and girls was already dire before the pandemic continue to deteriorate.

Women's unpaid care work and the unequal division of labor in households is being further exacerbated as COVID-19 response measures maintain schools closed along with public spaces, and care services. Women in LAC already spend almost three times as much time on unpaid care work compared to men. As public resources are stretched to their limits as a result of the emergency, States' ability to continue providing care related to the welfare system will further diminish when it is most needed, meaning women's caregiving role and hours spent will continue to grow. Furthermore, as the availability of jobs remains limited throughout the economic recovery, women will find greater challenges in accessing labor markets in terms of the burden of hours related to care work.

Given this critical context in the region, this report calls for ensuring gender equality and women's empowerment into COVID-19 response. as central to provide an effective and comprehensive approach.

Key recommendations include:

  • Systematically collect sex and age disaggregated data in all areas relevant for the health, social, economic, and political areas that could be impacted by COVID-19 to guarantee the response includes women and girls and prevents gender gaps from being widened;
  • Partner with women's and LGBTIQ+'s organizations and support their participation in the design and plan of the response and recovery to ensure they have a voice in decisions made and can reflect their specific needs and expertise;
  • Build women's and LGBTIQ+ persons' long term political and economic empowerment into both immediate relief and longer-term response and recovery strategies by including specific supports and programs for women and LGBTIQ+ people to re-orient their income-generating activities in the immediate and long term and addressing unequal burdens of care. Acknowledge the situation of groups dedicated to caring as domestic workers and their precarious situation.
  • Enable access to healthcare services for women and girls and the most at-risk groups. Eliminate the cost of COVID-19 prevention, treatment, and care where those costs create barriers. Find ways to reduce hidden costs to women, such as increased caregiving burdens, the need to find ways to care for their children while they are at work, and transportations costs. Strengthen health systems and guarantee universal access to testing, medication, and treatments, especially for women and members of marginalized groups.
  • Recognize and address the unequal division of care work, and unpaid domestic labor, as an essential element of emergency public health and economic response. Provide appropriate socioeconomic supports for women and girls, providing care work as a cornerstone of all humanitarian program design and all recovery policies.
  • Ensure all COVID-19 response and recovery activities provide trauma-informed, women-friendly, actively Inclusive, work environments: Responders should be aware of the increased barriers facing front line service providers because of COVID-19 measures, especially women, and ensure gender-sensitive policies address these barriers.
  • Include GBV services, access to information and communications technology (ICT), and SRH services, as cornerstones of all response and recovery activities. Ensure that women's access to ICT is considered an essential, life-saving service, both during response and throughout recovery.


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@Ana Caroline de Lima/FotoDocument/CARE
@Ana Caroline de Lima/FotoDocument/CARE

What happens when women in poverty are economic powerhouses?

We usually think of women in CARE’s projects as beneficiaries or participants, but they are so much more powerful than that. Women who work in CARE’s programs use their skills to build businesses, create jobs, keep fresh produce in markets, and respond to emergencies. Let’s flip the narrative. Instead of pointing to these women as people CARE helps, why don’t we treat them as the powerhouses they are? They are helping to grow national economies, sometimes for as little as 5 cents a week.

This pulls from 8 projects in different countries to show off the economic power of women in CARE programs. We have so many statistics about this that I had to narrow it in to how many jobs women are creating just to make it fit in 2 pages. Clearly, this calls for more digging to see what the stats are telling us about other parts of the economy. 

What have these women accomplished?

  • In Haiti’s Kore Lavi project, 43% of fresh food vendors and 61% of food producers have hired additional labor to help with their businesses—creating needed jobs in the community.
  • In Guatemala’s Nourishing the Future program, there was a 62 percentage point increase in the number of farmers who could access credit to invest in labor, among other things.
  • With less than $10 per job created, Rwanda’s Job Creation project worked with entrepreneurs in Rwanda to create nearly 100,000 jobs and improve business profits by 75%. It also helped close the gap between men and women.
  • Egypt’s IEIDEAS’ final report estimates that the project will have added 10,000 jobs to Egypt’s economy in the next 5 years, if trends continue as they have been since 2011.
  • PROSPECT in Zambia created water trusts that have created 190 jobs in the local economy, which earn between $684 and $6,198 a year. This is anywhere from at the minimum wage for part time jobs to 9 times the minimum wage for higher-skilled work.
  • Women in DRC’s Tungane project and resilient VSLAs are using their connections to get refugees paying jobs when they have to flee their homes.
  • Farmers in West Bank Gaza’s Tataweer project built local nurseries for vegetable seedlings, seedbanks, and other businesses. The nursery produces 3 million vegetable seedlings a year, and makes $14,000 in profit each season. The businesses have created 134 job opportunities for local communities.
  • Women in Morocco’s VSLAs were 17 times more likely to own their own businesses after the program. 450 individual women and 116 collectives started new businesses and created jobs for women.

How did they get there?

  • VSLAs: In Haiti’s Kore Lavi project, 38% of fresh food vendors and 50% of staple vendors are using credit from VSLAs to expand their business. VSLA’s were also instrumental in the projects in Morocco, DRC, and Guatemala.
  • Reduce transactions costs: Tatweer is supporting new businesses that are close to farmers, allow families to skip the roadblocks and travel costs, and have quality standards, farmers are saving $1.5 million in the costs of production.
  • Work for gender equality: 49% more women in IEIDEAS in Egypt say that men and women should be making decisions together, and twice as many say that women can be leaders.
  • Create confidence: 75,000 people in Job Creation in Rwanda took financial literacy and entrepreneurship training. 93% of participants are confident that they can keep their businesses open for at least the next 3 years. One woman told us “the training taught us we can do something ourselves.”
  • Make services financially viable: By charging a small amount for water, the Water Trusts in Zambia’s PROSPECT are able to pay for repairs and expanding services to new customers. From 2009-2013, the water trusts collectively earned $109,415 in profits that they were able to re-invest in services and put into savings for future repairs.


Because of your generosity in supporting these communities after unimaginable hardship, they are empowered to thrive through your investment in CARE.  We thank you for your continued contributions as we are committed to saving lives and solving global poverty.

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More people are displaced due to war and natural disasters today than at any time in the last 70 years. Around the globe, humanitarian crises affect 141 million people in 37 countries.

The increased need for humanitarian assistance is driven primarily by:

  • Increasing conflicts around the world. More than 65 million people – one of out every 122 persons on the planet – have fled their homes either as refugees or as internally displaced persons. Syria, Iraq and Yemen account for more than half of that number.
  • More natural disasters. Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled. Natural disasters affect over 375 million people every year, with 98 percent of these disasters related to climate change.

The world’s humanitarian response system faces unprecedented challenges. Yet it’s a system too often burdened by inefficient, bureaucratic, and outdated methods that seriously delay life-saving assistance. As one of the world’s leading aid agencies – providing relief to more than 10 million people in more than 20 countries – CARE is at the forefront of innovation to modernize emergency response for an era of unprecedented challenges. Our goal is simple: to be better, faster, and to save more lives.

Given the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, as well as the increasing number of protracted conflict-related crises, CARE is committed to maintaining our capacity to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously. When disaster strikes, CARE needs flexible resources to deploy when and where they are needed most. We also seek to invest in new technology, to test and refine cutting-edge practices, and to drive global-level discussions around humanitarian need and response – not only to improve our own capacity to reach those in need, but also to set new industry standards for a global humanitarian system that is too often slow and inefficient. CARE places special emphasis on addressing the challenges faced by women and girls in times of crisis, including complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and a heightened risk of violence and abuse.

With the support of generous donors like you, CARE’s Humanitarian Surge Fund allows us to move quickly to respond to a crisis without waiting for governments to release funds or hoping individuals will support yet another emergency fundraising appeal. Critically, outlays from the fund help position CARE to leverage significantly more funding from institutional and private donors. By allowing CARE to launch our response without delay, the fund enables us to take advantage of the critical, short window of media attention to a disaster. When CARE is visible in the media, we are able to advocate forcefully with donors and governments on behalf of the needs of the most vulnerable, in particular women and girls.

In Guatemala specifically, a modest $25,000 Surge Fund allocation enabled CARE to initiate a response the day after the April 2018 volcanic eruption, starting with needs assessments and the recruitment of qualified personnel to launch activities and mobilize additional resources. In first stage of the response, CARE reached 3,360 people through water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and the distribution of other essential items like face masks and cleaning items. We were able to raise another $458,257 for subsequent phases.

CARE was able to raise close to $500,000 in new donor contributions toward the Surge Fund in Fiscal Year 2018, and just over $2 million in total. We are enthusiastic at the prospect of leveraging our use of the Fund to raise more donor money and enhance CARE’s visibility and effectiveness as a humanitarian actor. At the same time, leveraging additional funds that then can be used to replenish the Fund is a crucial challenge. The reality is that many of the crises for which we will make Surge Fund allocations are out of the public eye, or long-simmering/“forgotten” crises for which it is hard to raise money generally, including from institutional donors.

Going forward, we will be more strategic in how we use the Fund to support emergencies in order to capitalize on leveraging opportunities. We also hope to attract significantly more funding this year and beyond by redoubling our fundraising efforts, strengthening engagement with key donors, and getting the message out about the importance of the Fund and the high impact it achieves.

SOURCED FROM: Rick Perera, Resource Development Communications, CARE USA

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Raquel is the leader of the grassroots organization Madre Tierra, or Mother Earth. She has been a member of this group for 24 years, where she interacts with civil society and local and national authorities, and participates in political dialogue to advocate for women’s empowerment.

When Raquel joined Madre Tierra, she had little confidence and was nervous to speak in public. In the past, she was a victim of violence and sexual abuse.

Raquel overcame her fears and realized that she could lead change. Raquel stated: “With the violence, discrimination and problems that women face, we have to be clear and understand that it is not something that we have been born with. It is a problem that society itself has been in charge of.”

Raquel is lucky that her mother worked for Madre Tierra in the past. Her mother encouraged and empowered her to join the organization and represent her community. Further discovering her capabilities and potentials was what motivated Raquel to move forward. Raquel said:

“I started very small in the organization. But we can contribute a lot as young women to the processes of change and development of our communities.”

Now, Raquel is the leader of Madre Tierra. Madre Tierra started in 1993, during the civil war in Guatemala. The organization helped refugee women return home from Mexico. Madre Tierra means a lot to Raquel: “It is a safe space that has allowed me to learn, but also to grow as an independent woman.”

Through CARE’s Partners for Resilience program, members of organizations like Madre Tierra are supported to learn about the consequences of climate change and how to adapt to its increas- ing impacts. Raquel says:

“The earth is changing. The strongest impact that we have experienced due to climate change is the lack of water.”

Raquel is determined to take action to address climate change. Madre Tierra has developed training and analysis processes at the community level, identifying key capabilities and vulnerabilities. Additionally, Madre Tierra works together with CONRED, the national disaster response agency in Guatemala. CONRED has trained members of Madre Tierra on how to educate women in disaster risk management.

For Raquel, things are clear. If there are no women involved, then there will be no successful solutions. Raquel adds: “There is a relationship between the Earth and women. They both feed the world, they both give life.”

The inclusion of women is important to the urgent adaptation to climate change which is needed to make the planet habitable for generations to come. Including all genders also leads to more successful imple- mentation: when women are engaged, the entire community is heard. With pride, Raquel adds: “For me, the most motivating thing is the change that is seen in people. There will be no changes if people do not become aware of their impact on the planet.”

Raquel is realistic but confident about the future. It gives her courage to see that she is surrounded by so many people.

In the face of disaster, Guatemala is empowered to be resilient and not break due to generous support from donors like you.  Thank you for equipping women like Raquel with the resources to contribute to her community.  


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Location: Atlanta, GA - USA
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Project Leader:
Nia Carter
Atlanta, GA United States
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