March 08, 2021

Let's Celebrate International Women's Day

Celebrating International Women's Day

International Women's Day is celebrated every year on March 8th. It's a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women while also issuing an important call for gender equality.   

Women play important roles in the Maya culture. The Maya world view envisions a world where there is no domination and where complementarity is the overarching relationship. Sounds good, right? That means that women and men are complementary, each of them with different natures and capacities, both necessary for the well being of their community. Sadly, the invasion by the Spanish in the 16th century dramatically and violently suppressed that complementarity and brought a culture of domination of men over women. Although the Maya world view survived and is recuperating, the macho culture is slow to weaken. Women in Cajola are very oppressed. Maya Mam Weavers Cooperative was formed so that women would have a way to earn money and not be forced to migrate. It was formed as a female only cooperative in order to allow all members to step forward and blossom. Along the way they have progressed in many areas, learning technical, artistic and managerial skills. They have been earning a regular income which enables them to care for their families, and spend money in their community. The results? Self-esteem, the ability to claim their rights with respect to their partners at home, and leadership skills. Taking responsibility for coordination and managing their business has created leaders (and self confidence too!).

This International Women's Day, the cooperative will be reflecting on their role as women, and learning about some Guatemalan women they could consider as role models. One important example is Thelma Cabrera, a Mam community leader and social activist. Participating over the years with a grassroots organization, she emerged as their public face during the last Presidential election. The organization fought hard to maintain their values while entering in the Guatemalan political system and her candidacy was as the representative of a social movement, not a political party. And in an election characterized by corruption, violence and the usual high number of candidates, she secured fourth place! There is hope for the future of Guatemala and for the future of women. Let us celebrate, continue to challenge stereotypes and support women owned businesses!