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Guatemala, a country only slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, is a country rich in agriculture, natural resources, and culture.  However, with more than half of its population in poverty, the country is plagued by low education rates, poor health statistics, and high mortality rates, with just under 17 percent of the 14.4 million people living in Guatemala suffering from extreme poverty.  Poverty affects the overall population disproportionately as a result of centuries of continual discrimination against the indigenous population.  More than 70 percent of those living in extreme poverty in Guatemala are indigenous, which is reflected in the high infant and maternal mortality rates.  Indigenous mothers in Guatemala are three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-indigenous women.1

These statistics point not only to the suffering faced by indigenous Maya, but also highlights the particular hardships, oppression, and discrimination faced by women in Guatemala.  Women not only lack access to health care but also struggle for adequate education, economic security, and decision-making power in addition to other deprivations.  In a recent report on gender disadvantages across the globe it was noted that “whilst there are instances in where men are disadvantaged in comparison to women, generally women and girls have fewer opportunities, less access to resources, lower status and less power and influence than men and boys”. 2

Nationally, 80 percent of men are literate compared to 72 percent of women.  However, in the rural areas this disparity is much greater with a 70 percent literacy rate among rural men compared to 57 percent among rural women. 3  The limitations on girls’ and women’s educations inhibits their ability to secure employment and subsequent abilities to help provide for their families.  As of 2006, women in Guatemala only represented 38.8 percent of the population, and of those women who do earn a wage, their incomes are almost four times less than those of men.

The difficulties and discrimination that women face with regards to access to health care and education severely disadvantages women when attempting to acquire jobs that will allow them to provide for their families.  MGV seeks solutions to help women rise above the inequalities that exist within Guatemalan society and support women with economic opportunities that will help them to gain better access to health care, education, and other necessities for themselves and their families.

MGV currently supports women’s groups in the village of Lupita in the municipality of Santo Domingo, Suchitepequez and Panajachel, Solola – as indicated by the green triangles on the maps below.





1 Ogrodnik, C and Borzutzky, S. “Women Under Attack: Violence and Poverty in Guatemala” Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 12, No1, Jan 2011.


2 Lidonde, Rose Atemo, et. al.  Advocacy Manual for Gender and Water Ambassadors.  Leicestershire: Loughborough University, December 2002. 


3 Lambert, Virginia. Gender Assessment USAID/Guatemala. Rep. no. GEW-1-00-02-00019. USAID, Apr. 2009.