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Rural Women are Becoming More Self-Sufficient


Guatemala continues to face serious challenges when it comes to addressing the structural problems that make it one of the countries with the most inequality worldwide. With the majority of its population living in often extreme levels of poverty, Guatemala remains one of the poorest Latin American countries, marked 127 out of 187, with a poverty indicator of 0.628, according to the 2019 Human Development Report. Such data shows that many Guatemalans still lack a decent place to live, work, and grow.

As the 2019 report states, the central problem in Guatemala has to do with the fact that the majority of its population (especially those from rural and indigenous backgrounds) is excluded from the ability to exercise its rights. For this reason, Guatemala is categorized as a country with a low level of human development, a reality particularly impacting its children, young adults, women, and indigeneous peoples.

Yet even as this troubling situation afflicts an overwhelming number of already marginalized people, we can also see the hopeful emergence of certain organizations seeking to contribute to the development and empowerment of women, particularly those from rural communities. In this way, the Association of Agricultural and Entrepreneurship Development (ADAM) was born. This association has now been working for 25 years to support the improvement of living conditions and resources among the vulnerable peoples working primarily in the western highlands of Guatemala.

ADAM helps rural, small-scale farmers, particularly prioritizing rural indigeneous women, who are the most disadvantaged population in terms of access to the resources that would allow them to farm independently. These women have little to no access to land, among other obstacles.

According to the Second Property Registry, 88% of lands are under men’s names and 12% under women’s. Consequently, three of every four women are farming land that does not belong to them, a condition which keeps them from being viewed as legitimate tenants of the land.

Personal input

With the support of ADAM, rural indigenous women on small-scale farms have improved their business abilities and applied them to sustainable management. Following the values of the agri- food industry, farmers use investment capital intended for the purchase of input to develop productive farming techniques. Thus, ADAM promotes an agro-ecological approach, while helping its farmers to use its input to reduce dependency on outside entities.

These women are also managing to use the technique of auto-power-saving with their own income, which has allowed them to accumulate collective capital, granting them credits to increase productive investment. In this way, the women have strengthened their own ability to defend their rights. These female farmers have created several advocacy groups, including, various “gender committees” and, currently, the incorporation of the organization known as the Network of Precious Woman Gems. With the aid of this group, these farmers have formed alliances with other female networks and organizations, which will be contributing to these women’s work, both by helping them advocate for their rights, and by strengthening their abilities of organization, production, and entrepreneurship.

Alain Mejía, agricultural engineer. Coordinator of Economic Development Projects of ADAM. Phone. 7767-4792; amejia@adam.org.gt