Indigenous. Woman. Leader.
AFEDES makes sure these three words are found together more often.
Women in Guatemala, especially Indigenous women, have suffered centuries of discrimination and exclusion. They are particularly underrepresented in elected government positions.
So how is it that Martha Leticia Chacón Chuquiej, an indigenous woman, was elected mayor of the small community of San José Pacul?
Martha was encouraged to run by the Asociación Femenina para el Desarrollo de Sacatépquez (Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez), an indigenous women-led community group and long-term Thousand Currents partner.
Originally conceived as an economic development organization, AFEDES realized that their microcredit program alone didn’t address the root causes of inequality and gender discrimination. So, they pivoted – changing strategy while staying true to their mission and responsive to the women’s priorities.
AFEDES emerged with a focus on empowering women through civic participation and leadership participation, which led to the creation of their School for Women’s Political Education.
“This position has been a big challenge for me, as a woman, as a person…” says Martha Chacón about being elected mayor. She is one of the graduates of AFEDES’ political leadership school.
“Now [my husband] realizes that the work I do has value and that I’m contributing economically to our household. Since I took this role, he now feels committed to support me even more.”
Thousand Currents remains committed to the radical notion that women are the innovative leaders of the future.
The women of AFEDES not only organized themselves to improve their incomes, but to affect systemic and political change that benefits the whole community.
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