There is a widespread culture among men in Central America that results in many women experiencing discrimination, violence, poor control over their own bodies, and limited access to schools and education. Even when women are actively engaged in agriculture, they often do not have the right to own land. Also, many women are up against language barriers, since they do not speak Spanish. In this sense, they are doubly discriminated against, both as women and as indigenous people.
The Development Fund seeks to enhance consciousness of equal rights in grassroots organizations and among our local cooperation partners, and to increase their capacity to integrate an equal-rights perspective into their work. This applies to everything from equal-rights perspectives in projects, to the strategies and bylaws of the organizations themselves. We work with our cooperation partners (Ammid, Adipo, Asocuch and Utz Che) to strengthen women’s groups and women’s cooperatives. By increasing income for the family as a whole, women heighten their status and self-confidence.
Close to half of the Guatemalan population is Mayan and still experiences discrimination, poverty and lack of rights in practice. Little respect is shown for their values and ways of life. That they speak other languages is no advantage, and unfortunately many young people prefer to learn the majority language and forget their mother tongue. Several of the organizations we work with integrate Maya culture in their work. They actively use such languages as Quiche and Mayamam and contribute to building up pride in indigenous identity.
Political advocacy is carried out by local organizations in the countries we work in, and is coordinated closely with our Oslo office. The Development Fund seeks to make it possible for our local cooperation partners to participate in political processes, both locally and globally. Thus, our partner organizations in Guatemala participate in global meetings on the Plant Treaty (link to article on the Plant Treaty). National and international work on seed policies are highly prioritized in the region.
Climate policy is also crucial, and in this case entry is gained through local forest management. Work is being done to improve Guatemalan laws on forest management and seed. All political work is concerned with improving rights and access to natural resources for the Maya and other small farmers we work for.