Tag Archives: Guatemala

Why Smart Girls are Scary, The Confidence Gap, and Abortion Debates Heat Up

Nicholas Kristof weighs in on why terrorists fear smart girls, Europe and Chile spark new abortion law debates, girls take change into their own hands in Guatemala, why “leaning in” isn’t enough, and the realities of American life for low-income mothers. This is your Spark News Digest.

Read, Discuss, Share.

By Spark Fellow: Kendra Hyett



GLOBAL EDUCATION: What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?

As the devastating abduction of over 200 Nigerian school girls continues to make international headlines, the biggest question is why innocent girls were targeted by extremist terrorists. New York Times journalist and human rights advocate Nicholas Kristof weighs in: they did not target army barracks, police or drone bases because their worst nightmare is actually educated girls – the most powerful, burgeoning force to transform society.



GLOBAL HEALTH: Abortion Law Debates Heat Up

The reproductive rights war wages on around the world. A religious-backed campaign threatens the use of European aid money to back any programs supporting abortion.


Meanwhile in South America, reproductive rights are moving forward. In Chile, the ban on abortion – even when a woman’s life is at risk – will soon be reconsidered.



WORKPLACE RIGHTS: Leaning In with Nothing to Lean On

Much like the “quit telling women to smile” campaign, The Shriver Report author Valerie Young is saying, “quit telling women low self-confidence is all that’s holding them back.” With the recent publication of The Confidence Code, following up on the basic principles of Lean In that women are holding themselves back by not going for a promotion or raise as many men do, there’s been a lot of talk about where to draw the line. How much women are holding themselves back vs. how much needs to be changed in the workplace to meet hard-working women part-way?



ECONOMY: The State of Low-Income Mothers in the U.S.

Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs around, but what does that really mean for low-income families? The National Women’s Law Center takes a look via an interactive map at the realities for mothers in the U.S. working in low-wage jobs.



FILM: Storytelling Power!

Recently premiered docu-drama “¡PODER!”  shows how two Guatemalan girls take power into their own hands to find creative ways of change in their own communities. Get an inside look at the creation of this innovative short film and the amazing nonprofit organizations behind it.


Supporting Women Weavers in Guatemala

By SARAH MIERS, Spark Fellow

Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. The civil war in the 1980s devastated the county and the financial crisis in 1998 crippled its projected economic recovery. Today, the country is still facing serious development challenges:

  • 51% of Guatemalans live on less than $2 a day and 15% of the population lives on only $1 a day.
  • Guatemala is reported to have the most unequal income distribution in the hemisphere.
  • Its social development indicators, including chronic malnutrition, illiteracy and infant mortality, are some of the worst in the Americas.

I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala last summer in the highlands near Quetzaltenango and Lake Atitlán and was greatly affected by the reality of these challenges.

Indigenous rural communities are particularly impacted by poverty and malnutrition. Many of these communities create beautiful textiles and artisanal crafts, but they do not have access to markets or resources to insure consistent income from these goods.

I am therefore very excited about Spark’s newest grantee The Chuacruz Women’s Weaving Cooperative, as it will work to support women weavers in the village of Chuacruz and help them generate sustained income.

The grant will provide the following:

  1. Foot-pedal Loom: The women in this community are back-strap weavers, a time-intensive weaving method that makes it impossible for them to create and sell enough textiles to support their families.  Spark’s grant will supply a traditional foot-pedal loom and foot-pedal loom classes  to increase their skill set and production capacity.
  2. Business Classes: Additionally, Spark’s grant  will provide a 12-week Business and Design Curriculum to teach these women business skills that will help them turn their unique weaving into a sustained income.
  3. Microbarter Loan: After the women are successfully using the foot-pedal loom and have completed their business training, our grant will provide the community with microbarter loans to start a business. This unique opportunity allows the women to pay back their interest-free loan by selling their goods in the US market. Our grantmaking partner Nest will assist the consistency of these sales by connecting them with a vast network of designers and distributors here in the US.

We are so excited about the success that our grantmaking partner Nest has had in other Mayan communities in Guatemala and this opportunity to support this community in Chuacruz that we have decided to feature this new grantee for our upcoming Cocktails for a Cause event.

Please join us at Spark’s Cocktails for a Cause event on April 20, 2011 to help raise funds for the women weavers in Chuacruz.