Guatemala: promoting women's health

Oxfam partner, AMES, is an autonomous women's organization in Guatemala. They work on women's rights particularly reproductive and sexual rights and health, violence against women and labour rights. They provide training to develop women's capacity to promote and defend their rights in the community and in the workplace. AMES has a health clinic in their office and a mobile clinic, both of which provide preventative and curative health services.

They do all this work in an environment of constant threat Guatemala remains a fiercely patriarchal country.

Clinic staff have trained women who work in the free trade zones as nurses' assistants increasing their sense of self-esteem, increasing their leadership in the community and providing them with alternative employment opportunities.

Maria's story, 17 years old

(Maria's name has been changed to protect her privacy and her safety.)

"I work in a factory where we usually get off around 10 pm. To get home, I have to go across a bridge in a deserted area. One night I was attacked by four men and was dragged off to a lonely, dark spot, and sexually assaulted. It was horrible. In spite of my pain and anguish, I managed to get home and my sister went with me to the police to report the rape. They still haven't caught the guys who did it! Early the next morning I went to AMES, where I had been participating in workshops. I got immediate medical help and treatment to prevent pregnancy `the morning after pill. Most importantly, I got emotional support! AMES nurses went with me to the national hospital to be sure I got treatment to make sure I wasn't infected with the HIV virus.

"Thanks to the immediate support I got from AMES, I didn't face other consequences like pregnancy or HIV infection, and my emotional state has really improved."