Rural Guatemalan women fighting for change

Life in Guatemala is not easy. With support from Mil Milagros, rural Guatemalan women are making serious changes in their communities.

By Carolyn Daly
MM Executive Director

I grew up next to a large corn field and learned the hard way that playing hide and seek in the corn stalks would leave you with a million little cuts that stung for days, something that a few fellow PeaceCorps volunteers in Guatemala apparently hadn’t learned at age 6.

I knew how to handle chickens, identify crops, and use a shovel, even if I didn’t like it very much. In these ways, rural Guatemala felt comforting. It felt like home.

But I learned that rural life in Guatemala had its own challenges, particularly for women.

The average woman in rural Guatemala is indigenous, has a third grade education, has five children, an abusive husband, and is discriminated against by her government. Life is hard.

When I asked the MM staff to describe the “rural woman”in Guatemala, this is what they said:

She wakes up before the sun to wash dishes and clothes by hand. She boils the corn, walks a mile to the community grinder, and makes the tortillas all before anyone else is awake.She worries about whether her husband will have work today, tomorrow, next week, and whether he will give her the money she needs to buy food for the family. She worries about her sick child and the medicine she can’t afford to buy.

 She is a fighter. She fights a society that places so many barriers in her path. She fights just to survive. And she fights for her children to have a better life than she did.

 We have the privilege of working every day with these amazing fighters. Because of their fight, they are creating lasting change in rural Guatemala.

We see the changes that rural women can make every day, from the small to the very, very large. We see the mother who prioritizes buying soap because she learned that washing your hands with soap will prevent illness. We see the woman who was afraid to speak stand in front of a community group of men and advocate for herself, her family, and her community. We see rural women get elected to town councils, lead community groups, and break free of the chains that society places on them to be leaders in their homes and communities.

The rural woman is not weak. She is not ignorant. She is not worthless. A rural woman is...

Read more about the incredible women Mil Milagros works with on the Meet the Women page.