Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala

by Girl Rising
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala
Promoting Girls' Education & Equality in Guatemala

Even before the pandemic, girls were severely underserved by schools, teachers and schools in Guatemala - especially Indigenous girls living in rural areas. In the wake the pandemic, girls' education has reached crisis stage, with permanent school closures and severe learning losses.  Girl Rising's work has focused on providing support for teachers, creating new adaptations to curriculum delivery that can help address the long distances between schools and homes, and to bridge the digital divide.  

We have also adapted our program delivery to address the mental health needs of both teachers and learners. Our curriculum and teacher training has incorporated self care and community building. 

We continue to develop new educational resources to accompany our opular radio program.  Most importantly we are engaging parents in new ways to build their awareness of the importance of supporting their daughters' education and to help provide at-home learning tools and actvities.  .

In our last report we shared that we launched a new communications campaign to advance girls’ education by creating and distributing culturally relevant media content to a range of stakeholders, but prioritizing fathers and community leaders.  The campaign is focuses on the value of girls education and our goal is to inspire fathers and communities leaders to become allies in advancing education and opportunity for girls. 

All campaign messaging has been created through a community-based process, to inspire a feeling of ownership in the success of the campaign among a wide group of stakeholders. We continue to deliver the campaign throughout the summer and fall, and will be executing a measurement and evaluation process in the first quarter of 2023.  

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Girl Rising in Guatemala
Girl Rising in Guatemala

In the wake of the pandemic, an education crisis has gripped the globe, in some regions far more severely than others.  Guatemala is one of the hardest hit regions due to years of underfunding, lack of support for teachers, poor infrastructue, poor connectivity and long distances between schools. 

Girl Rising has responded to these urgent needs by expanding and adapting our approach.  The mental health needs of both teachers and learners is great, and our curriculum and teacher training has incorporated self care and community building.  We have developed new learning activities and modules for our popular radio program, and have created activities that involve parents so that they can learn and explore alongside their children.  We have supported new peer learning activities so that adolescents build a wider community of allies.  We have also piloted a new storytelling module so that adolescents can discover the power of their own voice and their own story.

In January we also launched a new communications campaign to advance girls’ education by creating and distributing culturally relevant media content to key stakeholders (prioritizing fathers and community leaders) on the value of girls education, inspiring them to become allies in advancing education and opportunity for girls. 

Our overall objective for this work is to inspire key stakeholders, prioritizing fathers and community leaders, to become allies in advancing education and opportunity for girls.The campaign has been created through a participatory process, empowering adolescent girls to develop the key campaign messages and drive the strategy, as well as including the inputs of educators and parents who are investing and believe in education. This inclusive process puts girls’ voice and vision at the center, leading to culturally-relevant, creative and persuasive messaging and campaign materials.  This approach also serves to build girls’ agency, leadership skills and communication skills.

Learning continues in Guatemala
Learning continues in Guatemala
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Two years of school disruptions have led to a crisis in schools and education systems in Guatemala. Although the beginning of the calendar year is the traditional Guatemalan time of student enrollment and re-enrollment into schools, a significant percentage of young people have not enrolled, with higher percentages among rural and Indigenous communities. Against this backdrop Girl Rising has expanded our vital work in Guatemala, working with additional partners, spearheading new ways to reach young people, and by adding advocacy and campaign initiatives to complement our educational programming.  We are deeply grateful for the continuous support of donors through our GlobalGiving platform who have made a meaningful differences in the lives of hundreds of adolescent girls.

We are also very pleased to report that two partners in Guatemala are now part of our Girl Rising Global Education Fund (GR-GEF).  GR-GEF is a venture philanthropy fund that commits annual unrestricted funds, along with mentoring, coaching, network building, capacity building, teacher training, to support innovative and early-stage organizations in their education and gender equity work.  All organizations who are part of our GR-GEF lead the Girl Rising educational curriculum with adolescents in their program.  The Guatemalan organizations who are now part of this six-year fund are:

EPRODEP is a non-profit that runs a school for ~250 preschool through ninth grade children lacking access to government schools surrounding Guatemala City. These local leaders include former students who understand firsthand the impact of the school’s human-rights based education model. As a GR-GEF grantee, EPRODEP will develop and expand its peer-to-peer program in which students are trained as mentors to work with youth in nearby public schools, using the Girl Rising curriculum as a key learning tool. 

Amigos de Santa Cruz is a non-profit committed to the economic and educational empowerment of Indigenous women in the communities of Santa Cruz la Laguna. With GR-GEF support, the organization will multiply its impact using peer mentors, each of whom will deliver Girl Rising curriculum and Amigo’s own related programming on reproductive health and gender equity to girls in group settings.  

In addition to GR-GEF, over the last several months we have worked with all seven partners to lead weekly sessions with nearly 1000 adolescents through in-person gatherings, virtual classrooms and through low-tech devices such as WhasApp.  Girl Rising is in the process of leading refresher workshops with educators who have already been a part of program delivery as well as workshops for educators who are new to our program.  Investment in teacher training is a vital part of Girl Rising’s work in Guatemala since decades of underfunding has resulted in teachers being unprepared to lead quality lessons for young learners. We have also set the stage to pilot a new element of our program, the Girl Rising Storytelling app which guides young people to explore their voice, their aspirations, their rights and their allies as they create their own stories of their lives, challenges and achievements.  

Girl Rising has supported several of our implementing partners by helping to develop and refine peer-to-peer mentoring groups helping to ensure girls continue with their studies while simultaneously building leadership and communication skills.  

Similarly, Girl Rising continues to build a network of adolescent girls through our collaboration with RINA.   We have hosted in-person meetings with organizations in RINA to strengthen platforms for adolescents to have spaces to meet each other, have access to training workshops that adolescents prioritize in addition to the different programs RINA's organizations offer, and to advocate or be politically active.  All of our partners continue to support adolescents through tutoring, sharing of educational materials and home visits.

Girl Rising is complementing our direct work with learners, teachers and parents, with advocacy work in local communities to help prioritize investment in education among key influencers.  We are leading a participatory process with implementation partners and learning partners to create messaging around girls’ right to education in Guatemala.  This work is focused  in the region of Sololá where we work with a diverse group of partners and communities.

All of this is possible due to your continued support - thank you for your generosity and helping us provide quality education for adolescents in Guatemala.

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Girl Rising’s programming in Guatemala has meant that hundreds of young people could stay connected to their peers, teachers, and studies, despite the challenges of COVID-19 and school disruptions. We are deeply grateful for the continuous support of our five implementing partners who have made it possible to reach adolescents in four different regions, even with the need for social distancing and adapting to the specific local challenges. This year, we’ve also connected with other mission-aligned organizations and potential partners for the coming years — learning from their work, and thinking of ways we can collaborate in the future. The RINA network, an alliance of stakeholders working with and for adolescents is growing stronger too, with constant communication between members to learn from each other, plan for 2022, and prioritize advocacy and communication efforts.

Partners continue to support adolescents through tutoring, sharing educational materials, and home visits. In some communities, in-person meetings are impossible due to the surge of COVID cases, so regular follow-ups with program participants took place over the phone. Teachers, mentors, and program leaders used Whatsapp messages and calls, emails, Google classroom, and printed materials, including the radio booklet from our Cambiando Mi Mundo show to help students continue learning. Mentors and teachers have shifted communications to virtual platforms as well via email and Whatsapp, with continuous online training workshops based on the curriculum and other related topics. 

As of now, post-program tests for participants and educators have been completed, and most adolescents took part in a graduation ceremony — receiving a diploma for completing this year’s program with Girl Rising and their school or organization. This year, one of our partners, REDMI Aq’ab’al, invited girls to create posters with their favorite parts of the Girl Rising module and their main learnings, as well as some of their plans for the future.

In addition to the work with our current partners,  we have been working in different alliances with organizations doing important work in Guatemala, such as the new school for Ixil adolescents, Horizontes Sin Límites (HSL). We hosted an in-person workshop where the HSL staff shared ideas on how to lead sensitive discussions around gender and gender-based violence, and the types of methodologies and pedagogical tools they have used to approach these topics. With SIDS/SOS, we hosted online training sessions with their mentors and they implemented one of Girl Rising’s modules — dubbing the film to two local Mayan languages in the communities where they work to prioritize learning processes in the maternal language of youth. 

Through our partnership with Directorio Guatemala, we participated in a networking event for each organization to meet and better understand each other's work. We held a 45-minute workshop on the importance of using storytelling in ethical ways. We shared Wadley’s chapter from the original Girl Rising film and discussed issues that are covered through her story, and how film can be a tool to hold conversations with adolescents, parents, and the larger community. 

Lastly, our meetings with RINA have mainly remained virtual and several members participated in the radio show, Alzando Nuestras Voces, despite the distance and limited internet signal. Several mentors from REDMI, MAIA, and SERniña sent in audio messages for the show focused on financial education and the importance of educating adolescents about finances, especially given the situation in Guatemala where there is an unequal and unfair economic system that limits people’s ability to fulfill their dreams and plans. We met in person as well to have a deeper conversation about the strategic plan for our network and build advocacy for more adolescents to get involved, and also plan for what we can do in 2022 if we’re able to hold more in-person meet-ups. 

All of this work is possible due to your continued support - thank you for your generosity and for helping us provide quality education for adolescents in Guatemala.

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Mentor Juana at one of the home visits
Mentor Juana at one of the home visits

Girl Rising re-launched our radio program this year and is excited to learn more about improving our reach despite COVID. Mentors first met up with community authorities to talk about the program and plans for the year. Mentors also finished home visits, inviting girls to listen in and talk to their parents about the program. They passed pre-test surveys with participants, as well as a small questionnaire to understand access to technology, radio, and smartphones, and whether girls attended school in 2020, and if they are attending this year. 

We are using the same pre-recorded show from last year, with key messages around emotional health, the importance of education, and the implications of the COVID pandemic for education and for girls specifically. This year, we will also share the show via WhatsApp in three 20-minute long messages to cover the whole hour each week — in addition to the radio stations and Facebook live — to make it more accessible to some participants. We are working in eight new communities in Sololá and Totonicapán through our partner REDMI Aq’ab’al, along with new girls in two communities where we have worked before. 

Printed radio booklets and storybooks were distributed with other materials like crayons and pencils. The radio show will also be part of one of our partner’s certificates on human rights for adolescents at the school of EPRODEP in Guatemala. We want to keep exploring and developing new ways to reach more participants with our materials and complement our partners’ ongoing programs, continuing to provide information and activities for young people to do at home. 

This year we are also strengthening our network of organizations RINA, the incidence network for girls and adolescents. We were able to meet up in person after many months of weekly online calls, with all the precautions and options to take care of each other. The plan was to polish our mission, vision and values as a network, and most importantly, start delineating activities we want to do in 2021. We worked on a plan for our radio show, Alzando Nuestras Voces, that premiered April 9th. On a monthly basis, we have a topic to discuss and members of different organizations that form our network either speak from experience, invite speakers or work on the script.

The idea is to host a show that covers diverse topics of interest to young women. The radio shows so far have covered topics such as the meaning and history of international women’s day, the role of social work at the community level, and fatherhood and new masculinities. We will cover other topics including financial literacy, cultural diversity and youth, and political participation of youth.

Pre-test surveys with some program participants
Pre-test surveys with some program participants
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Organization Information

Girl Rising

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @girlrising
Girl Rising
Catherine Brandli
Project Leader:
Catherine Brandli
New York , NY United States

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