Women Empowerment by Gabriela Dieguez

gadiehur at yahoo dot com

Gabriela’ss speech at Women´s Movement Conference in Milwaukee, May 2011.

Thank you very much for inviting me to this meeting I hope we can learn together and feel inspired about how to empower women and girls in our lives.

I am a native from Guatemala and I have lived in the US for 16 years. I came at the age of 17 and now after many years of study and practice I work as a counselor at Sixteenth Street Clinic providing services to undeserved population. I am also a consultant for Head Start and an active member of the Milwaukee Latino health Coalition which has as a mission to increase the health and well being of Latino communities by organizing power for social change.

I recently shared with a close friend how I come from a long lineage of women who are activists and workers for change. One example of this is my grandmother, who with two other women were the first three females to obtain a high school diploma in Guatemala what permitted them to enter university. We all have empowered women in our lives who have provided an inspiration to work for our communities in a local and at a global level.

Who are empowered women that have inspired your lives?

Looking back to my upbringing I can remember many other inspiring women in my life. I lived in Nicaragua during the 80s, after the Sandinista had won the revolution, and the country was surviving under an embargo from the US. Women were crucial during the revolution an unprecedented event in history. Women in Nicaragua fought as guerrilla and had important roles on the reconstruction of the country. I grew up hearing about the martyr Arlen Siu, a young woman who joined the Nicaraguan guerrilla at age 18 and was killed during an ambush by the Somoza army at age 20. I also remember seeing on TV Gioconda Belli and Rosario Murillo, both great writers, inspiration of empowerment and determination.

A present example of global perspective in empowering women close to me is the immigration process of Latinas into this country. I came to the US as a married woman during a time when the US needed my husband’s skills and the doors for legal immigration in his area of work were open. As a young immigrant I saw my self in need to learn English, strengthen my study skills in my new language and strengthen my social support system. I enrolled in ESL classes several evenings while my husband took care of our kids, I also enrolled in GED classes to refresh my knowledge in sciences and math. I created a play group for mothers with young children at the apartment complex where we lived, what gave me opportunity to have social support, cultivate friendships and practice my English skills. I consider myself a bicultural woman that is able to serve as a bridge between cultures to other immigrant women.

The process of immigration in a more global perspective affects women greatly. In my work as a counselor I have learned about many grandmothers that stay back in Mexico raising their grandchildren while their husbands and grown up children come to the US to work and send money to sustain their families. Many women who travel to the US are exposed to great dangers. In a recent documentary sponsored by Amnesty international I saw testimony from women from Latin America who start the trip towards US with the knowledge that in the process they are likely to suffer rape and as part of their preparation for migration they get a birth control injection.

Women who migrate to the US have an empowered position in their families. A good number of Latina women who have a husband and kids are able to stay home to raise their children and have the opportunity to study English and become the cultural brokers. The women who need to work to help support their families are strong women who are able to juggle one or two jobs, home care and parent their children.

A couple of weeks ago a young Mexican anthropologist visited Milwaukee and gave two talks about her work investigating deaths of migrants in the border between Arizona and Mexico. Rocio Magana a sociocultural anthropologist has been working in developing an ethnographic analysis of contemporary struggles over border control, humanitarian intervention and unauthorized migration. Rocio takes a look at the process of migration bringing voice to the people who migrate back to Mexico when their families are able to recover their bodies from the Sonoran Desert region located in Arizona.

Violence against Women is one of the focus areas for United Nations women. UN says “This fundamental violation of women’s rights remains widespread, affecting all countries. Women need strong laws, backed by implementation and services for protection and prevention.” Mujeres de Juarez is an example of the work done in regards to violence against women. Mujeres de Juarez is a non governmental agency in Ciudad Juarez a border city in northern Mexico. This organization works providing support to families that have lost a female family member due to violence. Some of these women are women who were traveling from south of the continent towards the US seeking a better future for themselves and families back in their own countries.

Rigoberta Menchu is the closest person who comes to my mind when thinking about the focus area of Peace and Security. Rigoberta Menchu is an indigenous Quiche woman from Guatemala, who was awarded in 1992 with the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work for peace and security for indigenous people in Guatemala. Peace and Security is one of the focus areas of UN. UN recognizes that women bear the burden of modern conflicts. Many times women are left by the men who leave to fight and they are exposed to extreme poverty, need to protect their children and recently in danger of being victimized by rape as a war weapon. UN states that specific threats to women must be identified and stopped, and women must be at the center of peace talks, and post-conflict reconstruction.

Rigoberta Menchu is a perfect example of this UN focus area Peace and Security. During the 1980s Guatemala’s 36 year civil war intensified and during these years Rigoberta Menchu’s family was persecuted and some of her family members assassinated. Rigoberta was forced to flee Guatemala and from Mexico she continued her work in defense of indigenous people. Rigoberta was an active player in Guatemala’s peace talk agreement in 1996 and continues to be an activist in Guatemala, working to build a better country.

Economic Empowerment is one of the other focus areas for United Nations women. Recently I read “Half the Sky” by Kristoff and WuDunn one of their stories talked of a young Pakistani woman who with a $65 loan from a microfinance organization started a small business selling embroidered clothing. Her small business grew and she was able to pay the family debts, bring back her daughter to live with the family and employ some of the neighbors in her business.

This example is no exception many times I have read of programs lending money to women. I also remember my father in law talking about how women who had small loans were the most responsible and creative in using money always putting the well being of the family first. Invest microfinance is a local example of global work in economic empowerment. Envest is a loan fund which manages a unique mix of programs that seek to alleviate poverty and promote an earth-friendly economy. Envest has microfinance projects in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua and their offices are located in Madison Wisconsin.

Leadership and Participation is the other focus area of United Nations women. This focus relates to the need that women take active roles in policy-making and leadership of their countries. Leadership is not narrowed to the need for women to participate as representatives and senators but the need for them to organize in grassroots movements that educate and transform their communities. In “half the Sky” there is an inspiring story of how women in Senegal have created a movement of education and empowerment to fight genital cutting. The story talks about how legislation was not affecting this practice until a group of women organized and started focusing on education, talking about human rights and opening the possibility to discuss what are the health risks of the practice. These women also discovered that the change needed was the support of the town’s people in order not to create rejection towards the women who were no longer practicing genital cutting.

United Nations has a chapter focused on women United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. They have six focus areas some of which I covered today in my talk: Violence against women, Peace and security, Economic Empowerment, Leadership and Participation, National Planning & Budgeting; Millennium Development Goals

A guide for global perspective in my life has been the idea that I am part of the world and the “suffering of any man or woman diminishes me”. I feel a strong connection with all people in the world and feel a strong call to work to make the world a better place. When I was 14 I read “For Whom the Bells Toll” and memorized the poem on the first page which has been my guide for work:

“No man is an Island, entire of itself;

every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,

as well as if a promontory were,

as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were;

any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind;

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

Getting ready for USAC

What a week!

It started like a regular week, I did some training with Manolo and Carlos (our facilitators who are going to help us at USAC) and some planning with Edwin (who helps us at Pedro Pablo Valdez). In the middle of the week Lucia was able to get the names and contact information for ALL the schools at the University who work on a credit-based system!!! This meant I could go talk to the HEADS of EVERY department where we could give students credit.

Talk about a break!

So I saddled up and spent Wednesday and Thursday running from one faculty to the next. I visited Agriculture, Humanities, Dentistry, Political Sciences, Engineering, the Normal School for teaching, Social Work, and the Chemical Sciences & Pharmacy. (Turns out the USAC campus is huuuuuuuuuge.)

After a lot of getting lost and a loooooooooooot of waiting in offices, I was able to make friends with many of the Deans’ secretaries and got in some face time with almost every dean or their close representative. Three of them agreed to let me post fliers and go into classrooms to talk to students (IN PERSON!) about our workshops. As MIA’s ambassador, I went from class to class plugging the awesomeness that is our Hombres Contra Feminicidio. Several of the professors made a point to tell their students how important MIA’s work is, and we had a bunch of students call and write Lucia to sign up! Success(es)!

It was absolutely exhausting, but I cannot believe how many important people I was able to see in the space of two days, crash-course in networking at the university!

Yesterday we had another succesful day at Inca. The teacher who hosts us was absent but we talked to the vice principal who gladly let us into the classes. Without a teacher of course it was a little tricky to keep the girls on task, but we ended up being able to direct their energies into lively discussions about how men and women “are” and how they “could be”.

I’m writing right now at the airport (free wi-fi at the airport? Guate win!) because I have to skip town for a few days. Unfortunately I have to miss our big opening day at the University THIS THURSDAY(!!), but Lucia is filling in for me with Manolo and Carlos, so I’m hoping my new trainees will make us all proud! Suerte ‘manos!!!!!


Vineeta Singh is young American college graduate woman who in 2010 worked in Guatemala as an English teacher for a well-to-do private school.  As she learned about the violent reality of Guatemala, particularly for women, Vineeta looked around for activities that she could get involved with. She found this website first then Lucia Muñoz, who welcomed her immediately.  Vineeta quickly embraced the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Campain and soon became a co-facilitator. She returned to Guatemala in February 2011 to work with MIA for 5 months.


Month 1

Vineeta Singh is young American college graduate woman who in 2010 worked in Guatemala as an English teacher for a well-to-do private school.  As she learned about the violent reality of Guatemala, particularly for women, Vineeta looked around for activities that she could get involved with. She found this website first then Lucia Muñoz, who welcomed her immediately.  Vineeta quickly embraced the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Campain and soon became a co-facilitator. She returned to Guatemala in February 2011 to work with MIA for 5 months.


Yesterday I finished a whole month working full-time for MIA.

It feels like just yesterday that I met Lucia for the first time and she took me to the plaza central for an authentic atól experience.

At the same time, it feels like I’ve been working with my co-facilitators for a lifetime.

Most of this last month for me consisted of paperwork and legwork. Both of these things taught me that the only way to not go crazy working for an NGO in Guatemala is to cultivate a Zen-like tranquility and patience.

Lots of patience

I don’t know how many hours of my first two weeks I spent in waiting rooms trying to get in some face-time with this or that contact at the San Carlos University, how many times I told Lucia, “No I still haven’t heard back from…” But with patience and persistence I’m making sure all my chair-warming and e-mail sending gets me responses.

On the Feb. 11th, I finally got to show off my stuff at USAC when Paco and I facilitated a mini-workshop with activities from workshops 1 and 4 of Hombres Contra Feminicidio for everyone who works at the Unidad de Salud at the University. (Check out the pictures on the Facebook page!)

On the 15th, Edwin (El Colocho) and I started our workshops at La Escuela Primara Pedro Pablo Valdéz in zone 1 with boys in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. The kids are really energetic, and they’ve been makind. El Colocho and me work really hard to channel all that energy into class discussions. Some of them have taken workshops with other facilitators before and they’re really an interesting bunch with opinions all over the spectrum.

On the 18th, Paco and I started our workshops at instituto INCA in Zone 1 with girls in high school (I want to say they’re all sections of the 10th grade, but I might be totally wrong, they’re in 4to magisterio, and Paco and Jenny have explained the school system to me multiple times, but it just won’t stick.). More on them when I’ve had a chance to hear from them in class discussions.

Recently, I’ve been spending time training two brand new facilitators: Manolo and Carlos. Manolo is an old friend of MIA’s who used to work with delegations a couple of years ago and is going to make his debut as a bona fide facilitator on the 10th of March, when we officially start up at the University. Carlos is a “practicante” (intern), who’s working with MIA to fulfill his internship requirement for school. He just started with us this week but we hope to have him ready to facilitate on the 10th too.

I unfortunately have to be out of town on the day of our big debut, so Lucia is going to be the one to dazzle our students on Day 1 with Manolo and Carlos.

Looking ahead to the next week, there will be a lot of planning and rehearsing with the new facilitators to make sure they’re ready to shine on the 10th and last-minute logistics double-checking to make sure we get all our prospective students in the right place at the right time.

More to come in March 2011.

Fighting Femicide in the Americas

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two articles about resisting femicide in the US-Mexico borderlands and the Americas

In a room hidden away in the basement floor of a campus building, gut-wrenching  images greeted visitors. A “life-size collage” constructed like a statue projected women’s faces, missing persons posters, death masks and other snapshots of sexual violence. Nearby, a poster of a skeleton and blind-folded girl depicted the “duality” of femicide (also known as feminicide) in the form of a victim coming back to life to give a potential victim advice. The works of art were products of New Mexico State University (NMSU) students and staff.

“We just wanted to show (people) what femicides looked like,” said student and collage creator Johana Bencomo. Jose Montoya, a retention adviser for NMSU’s College Assistance Migrant  Program, added that  his art  was meant to encourage people to visualize and think about femicide, the killing of women based on gender,  as the “most extreme form of violence against women.”

The collage and poster were appropriate if disturbing backdrops to a recent presentation of a ground-working book at NMSU’s main Las Cruces campus.  Terrorizing Women: Femicide in the Americas, is a book that examines women’s murders in Mexico, Central America and South America. Its chapters tell the personal stories of  victims and their relatives, delve into femicide theories, portray the cross-border anti-violence movement, and explore the notion of transnational justice.

Published by Duke University Press, the new book is co-edited by Dr. Cynthia Bejarano, associate professor of criminal justice at NMSU, and Dr. Rosa-Linda Fregoso, professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz. “This book is really a call to social action,” said Bejarano, stressing that the book’s concept goes beyond typical academic tracts to incorporate off-campus voices.

Two community women were on hand to discuss the book and share their personal stories: Ciudad Juarez mothers Evangelina Arce and Paula Bonilla Flores. Arce’s daughter Silvia disappeared in March 1998, while Bonilla Flores’ daughter, Sagrario Gonzalez, was murdered the same year. Both women have been committed and outspoken human rights activists over the years.

“We were driven to write this book by our shock and outrage,” said UC’s Rosa-Linda  Fregoso. “We’re writing against centuries of invisibility of violence against women.”

In a panel discussion, Fregoso set a framework when she spoke about violence against women in Latin America and other parts of the world as a kind of “low-intensity warfare on women’s bodies.” In places as geographically and culturally diverse as World War Two Europe, Vietnam, Africa, and the modern Balkans, women have been treated as “war booty,” Fregoso said.

With drug-fueled violence devastating Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, only 40 minutes south of  NMSU, the discussion soon began to consider the connections between femicide and other forms of violence. In the El Paso-Las Cruces area, the violence hits home. For instance, Johana Bencomo recently lost a relative to the violence devastating the state of Chihuahua.

The NMSU student told Frontera NorteSur how her father’s uncle was murdered on a trip back home to a little Chihuahua mountain town. The man had relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the urging of his son, but went back to check the house only to encounter an unexpected and violent end. The relative was not involved in the drug business, Bencomo insisted.

“It’s really scary how much this drug cartel violence has hit every single corner of Mexico and not just Juarez and the bigger cities,” Bencomo said, adding that she has relatives in Ciudad Juarez but doesn’t visit them because of the unsafe situation in the city. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s sad, really sad,” she said.

Dr. Hector Dominguez-Ruvalcaba, an associate professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas-Austin, also participated in the panel discussion. Dominguez-Ruvalcaba said “impunity” was a common thread linking the femicides with other homicides in Mexico.

“Anyone can kill anyone with the possibility that they will get away with it,” the one-time Ciudad Juarez resident and former NMSU student warned. Mexico, he added, has good laws on the books, but the problem resides with applying them.

Central to their mission, the panelists analyzed strategies and tactics to combat gender violence. Bejarano was a co-founder of the Las Cruces- based Amigos de las Mujeres, a group established to aid the relatives of femicide victims in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City.

She recalled how activists had brought US Congressional delegations to the border and engaged high-level US authorities to put pressure on the Mexican government. Ultimately, she said, the strategy had limitations due to Washington’s stance that Mexico was a sovereign ally of the US and a “friend of business.”

Bejarano criticized other aspects of US policy, including Washington’s failure to ratify the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The US’ inaction on the treaty sets it apart from virtually all the world’s nations.

In recent years, Bejarano added, an increasing number of groups in Latin America have returned to the grassroots to  resist gender violence. The New Mexico scholar cited the example of community defenders in Peru who accompany victims of violence to court and pressure the justice system to uphold women’s rights.

The issue of vigilante justice was debated by Bejarano, Fregoso and others in attendance at the Las Cruces event.

On September 22, residents of Ascension, a small town in the northern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, rose up and detained a gang of kidnappers which had been terrorizing the populace for months. Two of the suspected kidnappers, young men, were severely beaten by townspeople and later died while awaiting transfer by law enforcement officials.

Residents then took over city hall and disarmed the town’s police force, which had been accused of collaborating with criminals, and vowed to defend their farming community. In subsequent days, the Mexican press carried stories of other alleged rapists and kidnappers killed by outraged citizens in Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez.

In the absence of effective rule of law, the “Ascension Syndrome” represents a double-edged sword, Bejarano said. “Even though I can understand Ascension, it is a dangerous precedent,” she added. “I think we need to reinvigorate or reinvent this movement at the community level… and we’re seeing some of that in Ascension.”

Bejarano cautioned against the Ascension uprising as being misinterpreted in the US as another instance of the violence some contend threatens to spill across the border. In her view, Ascension is an opportunity for people on both sides of the border to come together for the purposes of mediating grievances, restoring the rule of law and assuring genuine justice. “Unfortunately, it will take something like this to be a wake- up call on this side of the border,” Bejarano contended.

For NMSU student Johana Bencomo, fundamental awareness is still lacking at home. As part of a class with Dr. Bejarano this year, Bencomo helped interview 15 randomly selected NMSU students, mostly in their 20s, about their knowledge of femicide in general and the murders of women in nearby Ciudad Juarez in particular. According to Bencomo, only three or four students knew about the Ciudad Juarez slayings, and one student even said the word “femicide” meant “some sort of pesticide.”

“I was unpleasantly surprised how many people didn’t know,” Bencomo said.

-Kent Paterson

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news

Center for Latin American and Border Studies

New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico

For a free electronic subscription email: fnsnews@nmsu.edu

US medical tests in Guatemala ‘crime against humanity’

US testing that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with gonorrhoea and syphilis more than 60 years ago was a “crime against humanity”, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has said.

President Barack Obama has apologised for the medical tests, in which mentally ill patients and prisoners were infected without their consent.

Mr Obama told Mr Colom the 1940s-era experiments ran contrary to American values, Guatemala said.

The US has promised an investigation.

“We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologise to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices”  Statement from US secretaries of state and health

‘Shocking, tragic, reprehensible’

Syphilis can cause heart problems, blindness, mental illness and even death, and although the patients were treated it is not known how many recovered.

Evidence of the programme was unearthed by Prof Susan Reverby at Wellesley College. She says the Guatemalan government gave permission for the tests.

No offer of compensation has yet been made, but an investigation will be launched into the specifics of the study, which took place between 1946 and 1948.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Friday the news was “shocking, it’s tragic, it’s reprehensible”.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Colom said the test subjects were “victims of rights abuses”.

Professor Susan Reverby: ”They saw these subjects as soldiers in a war”

“There’s been a very strong reaction in the Guatemalan media and by my compatriots,” he said.

“Of course, there may have been similar incidents in other countries around the world, but speaking as the president and a Guatemalan, I would have preferred that these events had never happened on this soil.”

The joint statement from Mrs Clinton and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said: “Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health.

“We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologise to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices.”

In his phone call to President Colom, Barack Obama reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to ensure that all human medical studies conducted today meet exacting US and international legal and ethical standards, the White House.

President Obama also “underscored the United States’ deep respect for the people of Guatemala and the importance of our bilateral relationship”.


Syphilis can cause blindness, insanity and even death.

The study by Prof Reverby shows that US government medical researchers infected almost 700 people in Guatemala with two sexually transmitted diseases.

The patients – prisoners and people suffering mental health problems – were unaware they were being experimented upon.

The doctors used prostitutes with syphilis to infect them, or inoculation, as they tried to determine whether penicillin could prevent syphilis, not just cure it.

The patients were then treated for the disease, but it is unclear whether everyone was cured.

Prof Reverby has previously done research on the Tuskegee experiment, where the US authorities measured the progress of syphilis in African-American sharecroppers without telling them they had the disease or adequately treating it.

The experiment ran from 1932 to 1972, with President Bill Clinton eventually apologising for it.



MIA asks for TPS while in Guatemala

While Guatemala was reeling from the effects of a recent tropical storm and the eruption of the Pacaya volcano, MIA’s big brother organization, RPDG (Network for Peace and Development in Guatemala) mobilized successfully to petition for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

TPS means that deportations from the US to Guatemala are temporarily on hold until the country recovers from these natural disasters.

Here Lucia is interviewed for her perspective on how these disasters disproportionately affect women.

Equal Rights for Women? Survey Says: Yes, but …

June 30, 2010 / By VICTORIA SHANNON

People around the world say they firmly support equal rights for men and women, but many still believe men should get preference when it comes to good jobs, higher education or even in some cases the simple right to work outside the home, according to a new survey of 22 nations.

The poll, conducted in April and May by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project in association with the International Herald Tribune, shows that in both developing countries and wealthy ones, there is a pronounced gap between a belief in the equality of the sexes and how that translates into reality.

In nations where equal rights are already mandated, women seem stymied by a lack of real progress, the poll found.

“Women in the United States and Europe are shouldering major responsibilities at home and at work simultaneously, and this makes for stress and a low quality of life,” said Prof. Herminia Ibarra, co-author of the 2010 Corporate Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum.

The opinions of the French, in particular, are emblematic of the uneven drive for equality of the sexes.

One hundred percent of French women and 99 percent of French men backed the idea of equal rights. Yet 75 percent also said that men there had a better life, by far the highest percentage in any of the countries in which polling took place.

Why do people in France, which provides generous state care for new mothers and toddlers, feel so far from having achieved gender equality?

“Because they are, at least in terms of economic participation,” said Professor Ibarra, who teaches organizational behavior at Insead, the international business school based in Fontainebleau, France. “There are still very few women running large organizations, and business culture remains resolutely a boys’ club.”

Indeed, the United States and Germany reported an especially strong gap between the sexes on whether enough has been done to give women equality. Of those who believe in equal rights, many more American and German men believe their nations have made the right amount of changes for women, while many more women than men in those countries think more action is required.

“When you’re left out of the club, you know it,” said Prof. Jacqui True, an expert in gender relations and senior lecturer at the University of Auckland. “When you’re in the club, you don’t see what the problem is.”

The rising giants of China and India, together with Indonesia and Jordan, were the four other countries where a majority of equal-rights supporters think most of the adjustments necessary to establish equality have already been made.

In telephone and face-to-face interviews, the Pew Center found that equality of the sexes was by vast majorities a goal for men and women alike.

In 13 of the countries, more than 90 percent of the respondents said they supported equal rights; in every other country except Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Indonesia and Nigeria, more than 75 percent backed gender equality. Nigeria, in fact, was the only surveyed country where more than half (54 percent) said women should not have equal rights; 45 percent of respondents favored equal rights.

In addition, only in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan did fewer than 80 percent of the respondents say that women should be able to work outside the home. Even in those three countries, a majority said they supported women’s right to work.

Showing how widely accepted the notion of equality has become, even more men than women in Britain and Japan supported equal rights. (Scandinavian countries, which often score highest on gender equality, were not part of the survey.)

Yet few countries consider that equality achieved. Only in three countries did a majority of those surveyed say that women and men have achieved a comparable quality of life: Mexico (56 percent), Indonesia (55 percent) and Russia (52 percent). In six other countries, a sizable ratio — 40 to 50 percent — said they believed that men’s and women’s lives were equally good.

In Poland, by contrast, a majority (55 percent) said men had the upper hand. And in another five countries as diverse as India, Spain and Nigeria, 40 to 49 percent said men retained the higher quality of life. But France’s 75 percent led the list.

Only in South Korea (49 percent) and Japan (47 percent) did more people say women are better off than say men are, or that they are the same. It may be that men there “resent being married to their company, and also that there are fewer expectations of women,” Professor True said. “But that’s not equality.”

The variable assessment of gender equality suggests, according to the Pew Research Center report, that “while egalitarian sentiments are pervasive, they are less than robust.”

Most of the countries where people said men and women had equally good lives, Professor True said, “are only beginning to question and challenge gender discrimination and injustice, which have been taken for granted and seen as legitimate.”

“There is a lower consciousness of the gender differences there because men have always dominated,” she added. “Women have not had the opportunity to band together to challenge the power of men.”

Professor True, who is the author of five books on international relations and gender politics, is also head of the feminist theory and gender studies section of the International Studies Association, an organization of scholars and publisher of academic journals.

The surveys were conducted nationwide in all countries except China, India and Pakistan, where samples were disproportionately urban. Margins of sampling error are plus or minus three to five percentage points.

Although government mandates for equal education and job opportunities are frequently the means to gender equality, some nations that uphold the principle of equality also have sizable constituencies who would not give women the same rights to schooling and jobs.

Half or more of those asked in India, Pakistan and Egypt say a university education is more important for a boy; in China, Japan, Jordan, Poland and Nigeria, that number was at least one-third.

In some places where a boy’s education is favored, women had opinions far different from those of men. In Egypt, for instance, a solid 60 percent of men said boys were more entitled to that education, while an equally solid 60 percent of women disagreed. The gender gap was similar in Jordan and Pakistan.

“A lot of families are too poor to send all of their kids to school,” Professor Ibarra said. In India, for example, social groups are trying to organize day care for families so that daughters do not have to stay home and care for younger siblings while the sons go off to school.

Likewise, a strong core in several countries said men had more right to a job than women. More than 50 percent in 10 of the 22 countries said that when jobs are scarce, they should go to men. “If we think that it’s a growable pie, equality is fine,” Professor Ibarra commented. “If we think it’s a limited pie, it’s not.”

In India, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia and China, this belief was most widespread, while respondents in the United States, Britain, Spain, Germany and France most strongly disagreed that men should be preferred for jobs when they are hard to find.

Yet the belief that men should not have the edge does not translate into economic reality in many of the same countries. In France, Germany, Poland and India, at least 80 percent of those surveyed said men still got more opportunities than women for jobs that pay well, even when woman were as qualified.

What may be more surprising is that the respondents were not unanimous about men getting the good jobs. The inequity in well-paying jobs, Professor Ibarra said, “is absolutely true.”

“That’s not even an opinion,” the professor said. “You could find hard facts to support that anywhere you look.”

Professor True said it often took two generations before reality caught up with changes in attitudes.

“We’re entering the next phase in many of these countries,” she said. “We’re going to see much more frustration with gender inequality among both women and men before we get institutional change in developing countries.”

How the poll was conducted

The poll on gender equality was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the International Herald Tribune in 22 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Britain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United States. These questions are part of the larger 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project.

Interviews were conducted either by telephone or in person in April and May. In most countries, samples of 700 to 1,300 people were representative of the adult population. In China, India and Pakistan, the samples included at least 2,000 adults and were disproportionately urban. In addition, areas of instability in Egypt and Lebanon and remote sectors of Indonesia, Russia and South Korea were not surveyed.

The margin of sampling error for each country was plus or minus three to five percentage points. In addition, the practical difficulties of conducting any survey of public opinion may introduce other sources of error into the poll. Translation of questions into the many languages involved, for example, may lead to somewhat differing results. Each survey was conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 1, 2010

An earlier version of this incorrectly reported a statistic on people’s attitude toward women and jobs in Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan.



Asociación Guatemalteca Morazanecos Ausentes en USA (AGMAUSA), Red por La Paz y el Desarrollo de Guatemala (RPDG), Mujeres Iniciando en las Américas, Mujeres Abriendo Caminos, Alianza de Organizaciones Guatemaltecas de Houston, Texas: Consejo Comunitario Guatemalteco, Comité Guatemalteco, Posadas Guatemaltecas, Unity Soccer League, Voces Unidas por los Inmigrantes, Congarigua, Juventud Garifuna, La Nueva Juventud con Fé, the Bronx, NY, América Calderón, Washington, DC, Leonor Hurtado, San Francisco, Dora Pimentel, Denver, CO, Lic. Marvin Pinto, Los Angeles, CA, Oscar Sandoval, Chicago, IL, Casa de los Migrantes, Las Vegas, NV, Alas de Justicia, Los Angeles, Fundación Sobrevivientes, Guatemala, UDEFEGUA, Guatemala.


Dear Friends of the people of Guatemala, Guatemalan immigrants need your support to request Temporary Protection Status (TPS) due to the devastation and state of emergency declared in Guatemala in the aftermath of the passage of tropical storm Agatha. Guatemalan immigrant organizations sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to consider the current state of emergency and recommend granting TPS to Guatemalans living in the United States. The Government of Guatemala has officially requested a Temporary Protected Status for Guatemalans.

Granting TPS to Guatemalans does not correct the underlying injustice in economic and immigration policies, but is an acknowledgement of the enormous humanitarian crisis caused by tropical storm Agatha.


• ENDORSE THE LETTER: You can sign online at: The Petition Site. If you or your organization would like to sing on to the letter please respond via e-mail to Erasmo Morales (631)786-7048 erasmo@agmausa.org with the following information:

NAME OF ORGANIZATION:__________________________

CONTACT PERSON:_______________________________


Phone:____________ E-mail:________________________

This first letter will be sent on Monday, June 14th with copy to Attorney General Erick Holder. DEADLINE TO SUBMIT YOUR NAME TO SIGN INTO THE LETTER IS Sunday, June 13TH. If needed a second letter will be sent by Wednesday July 7th However if you or your organization do not want to sign into the letter, you can use the same format provided and send your own letter.


MUJERES INICIANDO EN LAS AMÉRICAS is collecting money donations. M.I.A. is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation and all donations are tax deductible, where applicable.

You can mail your contribution to: MUJERES INICIANDO EN LAS AMÉRICAS, 1256 Conway Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626 — U.S.A.


Send them a letter requesting they support the petition of a Temporary Protected Status for Guatemalans.

Contacting the Congress in English? http://www.contactingthecongress.org/index.html

¿Quiere ponerse en contacto con miembros del Congreso en Español? http://www.contactingthecongress.org/index.es.html

Letter proposal to the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

July 7, 2010

Ms. Janet Napolitano

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Ms. Napolitano:

We are writing to you to fully support the request by Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry, presented to the United States Government on June 4, 2010, that in the wake of tropical storm Agatha, Guatemalans in the United States be granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS). We urge you to positively respond to this petition as early as possible.

As portrayed in the media, on the last week of past May, extremely heavy rainfall caused by tropical storm Agatha fell over Central America and southern Mexico. Guatemala was most affected by this disaster, with loss of life, widespread damage to infrastructure, and agricultural losses.

In Guatemala, there are more than one hundreds confirmed deaths, and many other persons are missing, with entire communities buried. We have been informed that more than 120,000 people have been displaced, and that some 700 communities have been affected. Thousands of homes have been destroyed, and tens of thousands have been damaged.

According to the Washington Post article on June 2, 2010, Guatemala suffered“… huge losses in the agriculture sector. The country’s association of exporters reported a 75 percent drop in production in the vegetable and shrimp industries, while the National Coffee Association forecast a loss of 122,000 bags this season.”

The government statistics so far of the damage caused by Agatha are: 88, 971 homeless people; 142,959 persons were evacuated, and 152,488 affected; 497 schools and 107 towns were damaged, and damage to 400 bridges has made communications difficult. The Pan American Health Organization has issued a health alert due to different illnesses that can affect the population from diarrhea to dengue. Last year, because of a drought 136,000 families were affected with malnourishment. The Pan American Health Organization reports that Agatha just increased the risk of this population due to the loss of crops, and that famine will affect the area.

As you are well aware, Guatemalan communities and citizens here in the United States send more than $4 billion a year in remittances that help maintain social stability and provide basic needs to relatives in Guatemala. These remittances take on added importance while Guatemala recovers from the storm. We recall that when TPS has been granted in the past to nationals of other countries, remittances immediately increased by not less than 25%. This would amount to the most significant aid to recovery and reconstruction, and it would be provided by our own nationals.

Therefore, until the country can get back on its feet, we believe that granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Guatemalans in the United States will help to ameliorate the desperate situation of those victims that may benefit from funds sent by relatives in the United States. We also believe that it is in the interest of this country not to return people so soon after this natural disaster, because that action may generate further instability in a country where poverty was already very high before the storm. Such a grant would certainly not be without precedent, as Nicaraguans and Hondurans were granted Temporary Protected Status after suffering widespread destruction from Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

We believe that the conditions that justify this request for TPS –a significant calamity in a country, high risks for nationals of that country if they are forced to return, and an official appeal from the government of the affected country—have been satisfied. Therefore, we strongly support granting TPS to Guatemalans, and we ask that you give this request your most serious consideration.


Signatures of sponsors and endorsers

CC: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,  Attorney General Erick Holder

Trip report on establishing the Hombres Contra Feminicidio Program in Guatelinda

Twelve Weeks in Guatemala City

I arrived in Guatemala on Feb 20, and dove straight into starting programs. Was very fortunate to find a a place to live right smack in the middle of the action, zona 1. I am subletting a room at a friends house. I wanted to stay in zona 1 for many reasons. 1st to not have to wake up to traffic every morning to zona 1 where all the networking needs to be done and almost everywhere I need to go to work is within easy walking distance.

In Guate I felt the need to walk with the pueblo and bump into people and talk to them. It was a surreal experience for me. It was almost like going back to the 3 years i lived in Guate as a teenager.

We did two 4 day workshops at USAC. Sadly, during the course of the workshops two of the students were killed while getting snacks near the university. So sad.

We also started our annual programs at the all boy’s school in Zona 8.

You may remember that we did workshops in the PNC academy in 2009. Since then, they had a complete change of leadership both at the academy and in the PNC overall. Thanks to our work nurturing relationships, we were able to get in again this year. This year we are year round. Remember MIA”s goal is to get in the curriculum and this time we actually are in the midst of signing an agreement to be part of the curriculum on an ongoing basis. This is HUGE!!!

The PNC is in the middle of construction, there is a interium director who does not have the power to sign anything, but does have the power to allow us in every other Friday. We go in 5 classes per Friday and each class has between 40 and 60 students. I feel very optimistic that we wil be signing an agreement with the PNC Academy to adopt our campaign. I have been sitting with instructors and all of them want our manuals. It is a matter of time for the academy to have a stable director and then i think we be able to get a contract.

We’re finding that there are plenty of places ready to take us in to give the workshops. The biggest challenge for us is to find funding to make our work happen. I want to share with much pride that we were also able to get in with an agreement adopting our campaign. The department of health at USAC has welcomed us to their programs. I signed the agreement only days before my departure last May 15. This means that every single student that signs up to go to college will have to go through our classroom *as a requirement*. I am so new inside the USAC system that I still dont understand how this is going to unfold, but during my time here i am in constant contact with their personnel that we are are going to plan it out. USAC is the model and when MIA is able to hire permanent staff, we will be moving in to some of the satellites of USAC. We will become a BIG movement within the university.

I’ve also been dealing with the challenges of getting MIA recognized at a nonprofit in Guatemala. The latest was that my name was misspelled on some paperwork and I had to get it corrected and resubmitted, adding two weeks to the process. In addition, I had to get an ID card at the Guatemalan DMV, and in the process learned that my fathers name on my birth certificate was some stranger, a name I’d never heard of before. This opened up an old wound, my not really knowing who my birth father was. During this trip, I also was spending some time tracking down my birth father. Apparently I’m the result of an Immaculate Conception, which sounds better than not knowing who my father is. My blood father, according to the latest story I hear, was a boss in a bus company where my mother’s then-ex-husband worked. My father had been a bus driver and worked his way up to being the boss. Later, he was killed when returning home from work.

Also met with the Association of Widows of the bus drivers killed while working. As you may know, there have been hundreds of bus drivers killed on duty in the last few years. A reporter asked me why I was getting involved with the bus driver widows and I started crying: I realized right then it was through what happened to my blood father that leaves me feeling so closely connected with the widows.

We are working on a program to help the widows get into small businesses by creating micro loans. In a micro loan program, we would sponsor the women to get basic training on how to make a business work, and a small amount of funding, about $100, to get the means to make their business happen. This is the newest cause MIA adopted, and stuggled with it, because we barely have money for the campaign, but to see the widows going in circles trying to help themselves I could not look the other way. When I visited their little whole in the wall there were five women that for some reason I connected stongly and asked if they would be willing to attend a workshop on Sundays at Jenny’s house. They all come from a distance, one comes from a 2 hour and a half distance and tends to be the one who arrives first. They have been meeting for four Sundays in a row except last Sunday because of the Pacaya volcano and Tropical Storm Agatha. Through Jenny we were able to find them counseling for free on Saturdays too. These women have had no time to grieve. They were forced over night to pick up the pieces for their children and have not had the chance to be swallowed by their pain., and allow themselves to grieve.

I want to end with telling you a little about our facilitators. They are six young men who come from different schools within USAC. Two are artists, who are studying to become music teachers. Our longtime friend Randy from Colectivo Rogelia Cruz is going to school to become an archeologist. William is going for a teaching degree, Gary is going for business administration and Derick is about to graduate as a civil engineer. They are all volunteering and we give them a small stipend for their time and expenses. We meet twice a week.

Our chapina volunteer from Canada, Maria Luisa, is working with them while i am here to support the facilitators in their readings on gender issues and to train them to become strong facilitators.

When the academy called me, I was not prepared with facilitators and told the interim director that MIA was ready to go. I walked out of there with Randy who is a long time supporter, and asked him what to do. He said we (volunteer facilitators) have to go forward and MIA has to train us overnight. We started calling people we have worked with in the past and 5 accepted immediately. I feel I have been training a little too rapidly, but I had no choice.

When we met with the academy they wanted to start that same week I said we couldn’t start that quick, but to give us 2 weeks and we would be ready. Never told them it was because we didn’t have workshop facilitators trained yet. It was exciting to make this happen over night. The facilitators are loving the work and the hands-on training / workshops. We all read and discuss the readings. Then, the next day they train to present, and they all facilitate to the rest to make sure they understand the curriculum.

I can go on and on about the facilitators, I am very fond of them. Because we are meeting so often we have become like a family. They look forward eating together while exchanging ideas on how else they can contribute to a Guate without violence and day dreaming when we have an office. We are meeting at my friends house where I sublet a room, but sometimes we can get loud and we don’t want her to kick us out. I am hoping come next year we can get some serious donations and can have an office and employ them full time.

Unfortunately we were not able to get funds from the private company we were hoping from. As a matter of fact, it was them who prompted my trip in February and decided to stay for so long. But it is all good, we were able to network and find us BIG place to work in where we have a captive audience and helps us from running around all over the city. This private company asked that we revisit the project in July., wish us good luck.

Lastly, we were able finally meet with close people to the first lady again. As you may remember, we met with the first lady last July. She delegated the job of assisting us to certain subordinates, then her words were forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. Being there for so long, allowed me to sit on it and finally got a person with the power to remind the first lady to revisit our conversation. I will be meeting soon with someone in a position to make this happen, to discuss the national school system adopting our curriculum. This reconnection with the first lady talk from last July delegation happened thanks to assistance from Norma Cruz. Norma picked up the phone and put us in contact with the right people within the Avocado House (Palacio Nacional).

Helping girls in the path of education is an on going project. Because of limited fundsy we are presently only helping 5 young girls. Please help us help them keep them on track.

And now to end, I want to announce that I will be going back to Guate for at least another 3 months if not more. Maybe till the school year ends., that is in October. Chris and I have been talking for the last two years and finally both us are o.k. with me living long period of times in Guate. He will be visiting me a lot .

Don’t forget that we are a 501(c)(3) non profit, and so all donations are completely tax deductible.


Hombres Contra Feminicidio is an educational campaign in Guatemala which objective is to train teachers, students and people in power on how to prevent and erradicate violence against women. M.I.A. strive  to bring the campaign to teachers nationwide in order to bring the topic into the schools curriculum.