As a contribution to the GNRC Fourth Forum, on February 29, 2012 Guatemala held a Consultation on Poverty with girls from the Ecclesiastical Leadership School, in Cienaga Grande.

A group of 27 girls ages 12 to 20 participated, from the following ethnic groups: Q’eqchi, Quiche, Q’anjobal from the regions of Cobán, Peten, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Sololá and Chiquimula.

During morning, the dialogue on the concept of poverty was based on the idea of “A path to knowing oneself.” The following question was addressed:  Where am I in the concept of poverty? In their own words, the girls assessed poverty, and said that economic factors are not the only determinant, rather a series of social and emotional circumstances affect self-improvement.

Noteworthy were the comments on what they would like there to be at home. The top three things they all mentioned were drinking water, showers and more bedrooms, that is, they explained that each of their siblings should have their own room with a bed and clothing. They also mentioned the need for education, and most noted that poverty stems from a lack of opportunities to study.

In Guatemala, a high percentage of families live in poverty and extreme poverty due to governmental policies favoring big business over medium and small business. One of the needs the girls mentioned was to have their own business, to the benefit of their family such as a store, seamstress shop or a mill for corn, and that it should also benefit the community.

According to the first Youth Survey in 2011, the government does not see youth as a priority, even though there are 4.2 million young people ages 15 to 19 (28% of the population).

Written by Misael Méndez
GNRC Guatemala

More images...