Wednesday, July 17, 2019
The Women's Health Initiative
This July, Mayan Families is focusing on our Nutrition and Health programs, which is one of the three priority areas of the organization. This month we will share information about our programs which specifically aim to prevent malnutrition, and ensure communities around Lake Atitlan are nourished and healthy in order to complement and fully benefit from our Education and Economic Development programs.
We are proud to present the Women’s Health Initiative, which partners with women in rural communities to provide workshops on sexual health, tackling critical issues such as stigma and lack of education surrounding contraceptives and family planning, and high incidence and slow detection of cervical cancer. For Maribel, one of the participants who recently graduated from the program in Peña Blanca, the workshops were an important opportunity for her to learn about women’s bodies, family planning and cervical cancer.
“Even though I already have two children, I really had very little knowledge of these topics previously. I’m so grateful to have learned this as I can now teach it to my daughters”.
Participants like Maribel can start a chain reaction by passing on information to family, friends and neighbours, breaking the general stigma around these topics of conversation and coming together to benefit from each others’ experiences.
In Guatemala, a recent study found that only 7% of teenagers had the information necessary to make informed sexual choices, and among indigenous women, only 28% regularly use contraception, a direct result of lack of information and access to services around sexual health. Furthermore, cervical cancer continues to be the number one cause of cancer-related deaths amongst women of reproductive age in Guatemala; in Solola, the region where Mayan Families works, 75% of women in rural areas have never been screened for cervical cancer.
The Women’s Health Initiative aims to address this critical need through providing workshops in six different ‘modules’ to small groups of women, covering important topics such as the menstrual cycle, cervical cancer, mental health and family planning. This year, we are currently providing these workshops to around 45 women across four different groups in the communities of Peña Blanca and Tierra Linda.
These Women’s Health workshops also help reduce the high incidence of malnutrition in Solola’s rural communities. Barriers to access to women’s health services and education create limitations in family planning, resulting in families that cannot sustain the numbers of mouths to feed, which leads to sustained poverty and malnutrition rates. The women currently participating in the program are all mothers of students at our Preschool Nutrition Centers, which provides their young children with daily nutritious meals, further complementing the tools that our partner families are building through these workshops.
Going forward, Mayan Families aims to bring these workshops to more communities in the region, as well as more women in Peña Blanca and Tierra Linda.
“I think it’s really important for everyone in this community to gain this knowledge surrounding sexual health and family planning” Maribel commented. “We need to teach our daughters to protect and take care of their bodies. I feel more informed now, with a stronger and more open mentality”.
Help us achieve our goal of reaching more women like Maribel in more communities around Solola. Click below to contribute to our Nutrition and Health programs, including the Women’s Health Initiative.
- $40 is enough to provide one group of 12 women with post-workshop initial access to contraception
- $75 is enough to provide one group of 12 women with cervical cancer screenings
- $96 is enough to provide one woman with six sexual health workshops, a cervical cancer screening and follow-up access to contraception
- $350 is enough to provide a trained, Kaqchikel-speaking workshop facilitator for one month