A Safe Space for Women in Guatemala
Posted on: Thursday, June 21, 2012
“I want to tell the people of MADRE that I am so grateful for the support they have given us and for the contributions they have offered to the community of Barcenas.”
– Sandra Gonzalez, member of the Women Workers’ Committee
Elizabeth Rappaport, a photographer and long-time MADRE supporter, traveled to Guatemala to visit our partner Sandra Gonzalez at the Women Workers’ Committee—an organization that works to combat violence against women in Guatemala.
To learn more about Sandra’s crucial work, check out the interview below.
Elizabeth: Can you tell me one inspirational story you have heard about combating violence against women?
Sandra: Well, one story we recently heard was the femicide of a young woman named Rosemary Gonzalez. We tried to help our friend Betty, Rosemary mother, so that she never feels alone and knows that there are always women who are fighting for her – in our community and internationally. This has been refreshing for us, the power to effect change and the power to help her.
Betty’s family is already being harassed and abused. Her husband was kidnapped and robbed, and his truck was stolen. In response, we are seeking the legal process we need to take and are demanding justice by the public ministry. By taking action, we believe we will have much more power to continue forward within the community…and empower women so that they can move on with their lives.
Women and girls have faced particularly high levels of violence in your community of Barcenas. What is needed to end the epidemic of violence?
First, the condemnation and demands of our organization and our sister organizations. We need to equip women and girls so that they know to defend their empowerment, so that they know how to defend and to counteract this monster that is femicide.
What has the Women Workers Committee of Barcenas done to combat violence against women in the community?
Our organization reaffirms our promise to bring about change for the women in Barcenas…We have denounced the violence and demanded an end to it, at the national and international level. We have worked hard with affected families, giving them psychological support so that they can integrate themselves back into society; it is a very painful process.
Our organization salutes all the women of the world and especially Guatemala, who are voicing our condemnation of different violations against us as women, and specifically against femicide in our country…We continue moving forward.
How do you think the Women Workers’ Committee’s project, Sister Salons for Guatemala, is going to protect women in the community that face violence?
We hope to create a salon in which we can appreciate women’s beauty and elevate their self-esteem because we have to realize that we are equally valuable or even more valuable than the people that violate us. We intend for women to know that they are fighters, that they are enterprising…I think that it will protect them by enabling them, guiding them and teaching them the tools necessary for empowering themselves and moving forward.
How will the Sister Salons project change the lives of women in your community?
Their lives will change largely in respect to their economic situation. More than anything, it will affect their economic situation because they will learn to do this work, which they can conduct in their own areas, and it can provide them with money so they can grow economically and support their families.
We will help these women understand their worth and that we are equals in this society. They will learn that they are enterprising women, fighting women. They will be free women.
Archives"Press Releases" Home June 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 September 2013 August 2013 June 2013 March 2013 February 2013 September 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 November 2010 October 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 September 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 January 2009 October 2008 September 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 February 2008 January 2008 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 October 2006 July 2006 June 2006 September 2005 January 2004 August 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
In Iraq, women 'are the battlefield' (Women Under Siege , August 12, 2014)
Haitian woman faces death threats for speaking out about violence against women (WBEZ Worldview, July 16, 2014)
Media Spotlight Turns Away from Iraq, as Concerns Mount Over Human Rights and Political Stalemate (Uprising Radio, July 11, 2014)
Iraq: The women left behind (Aljazeera, July 3, 2014)
Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression (The Guardian, July 3, 2014)