In the rural area of the Department of Sololá in Guatemala, located in the western highlands, there are many families that are dedicated to agriculture. In these families, women typically are responsible for the breeding of animals and the creation of textiles that are traditional to the area. From an early age, women learn to weave and/or embroider so that in the future they can make their own traditional clothing. In the municipality of Santa Lucía Utatlán, there are small factories where they make clothes such as pants, shirts, and jackets.
In addition to having one of the largest and most colorful markets in Central America, Chichicastenango is known for its hardworking men and women and K’iche Mayan culture. It is located about 90 miles from the capital, Guatemala City, and has 85 communities within it. Agricultural and artisanal production are among the most prevalent economic activities in the area. Among the artisanal products, one may find looms; figures and drawings; bags; wallets; toys; hammocks; clothes; musical instruments; masks; wooden furniture; baskets; palm hats; leather products such as shoes, bags, hats; jewelry; and candles. For thousands of years, the locals have passed the wisdom about handicraft production from generation to generation. That is how Martina, 41 years old and a mother of six, learned the craft.
The municipality of Cantel is located within the department of Quetzaltenango in the Guatemalan highlands. The main form of livelihood of the residents there is agriculture. They grow basic grains such as corn, beans, broad beans, and vegetables (e.g., cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, beets, potatoes, squash, radish, chard). The production is extensive and harvests are on an annual basis. Many women there also engage in informal trade as well as weaving.
Santa Lucía Utatlán is a municipality located about 95 miles from Guatemala City, in the west of the country. It is one of the nineteen municipalities of the Department of Sololá.
56-year-old Francisca is from a rural community in this region. She grew up in a family of eight siblings (five sisters, two brothers). Francisca attended school under sixth grade; her parents did not support education for girls, as they found it unnecessary considering their daughters would get young, regardless. In her childhood and adolescence, Francisca divided her time between school, herding sheep, helping with household chores, and playing basketball, which she did secretly, as her parents did not support her playing sports.
Investing in women's economic empowerment has been proven to contribute directly to gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth. Women contribute in a very significant way to the economy through - among other activities - their small businesses and ventures. Especially in Guatemala, investing in a woman is investing in a better life for an entire family. 47-year-old Ruth, mother of four, exemplifies this empowerment.