Oxfam Canada receives federal funding to promote the economic empowerment of Indigenous women and youth in Northern Guatemala

(Ottawa) – Thanks to a contribution of $7 million from the Government of Canada, more than six thousand Indigenous women and youth in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala will improve their economic independence, through enhanced access and control of economic resources, and enhanced participation and leadership in decision-making related to local economic development.

Over a five-year period, Oxfam Canada’s “Camino Verde: Green Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Women and Youth in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala” will address the underlying determinants of gender inequality and power imbalances that contribute to a lack of women’s economic empowerment, including the perpetuation of discriminatory attitudes, norms and behaviours that underpin gender inequality; a heavy unpaid care burden faced by women; and gender-based violence faced by Indigenous women in project communities.  Camino Verde will strengthen innovative, clean and environmentally sustainable business initiatives led by Indigenous women and youth; as well as increase their economic rights, access to resources, and links to local markets. It will also work to create an enabling environment where business initiatives led by Indigenous women and youth can grow and prosper by increasing social, economic, and political engagement of Women’s Rights Organizations, community leaders, and municipal governments on issues around the rights, participation and leadership of Indigenous women and youth.

“Oxfam Canada is committed to a feminist approach to women’s economic empowerment, one that addresses the structural barriers and social norms that create gender and economic inequalities.  True economic empowerment will only occur when women and youth, in addition to having material security and access to productive resources, have the knowledge and information to make informed decisions and demand rights and hold government to account.” said Julie Delahanty, Oxfam Canada Executive Director.

Key challenges faced by Indigenous women and youth in Alta Verapaz are lack of skills and education; lack of access to and control over productive resources and markets; discriminatory social norms that exclude them from local decision-making processes; unpaid and inequitably distributed domestic care burdens; and high prevalence of gender based violence. Camino Verde will work with local Women’s Rights Organizations, norm setters and community leaders to champion increased awareness, positive attitudes and behaviors to ensure that Indigenous women and youth have access to their rights, and have increased capacity to influence policies and programs in support of women’s economic empowerment in their communities.

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Notes to Editors:
  • Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America; however, it is one of the few countries in the region where poverty has increased. During 2006-2014, extreme poverty increased by 8%.
  • The divide between rich and poor makes Guatemala one of the most unequal countries in the world. The situation is particularly severe in rural areas, where more than 70% of Guatemala’s poorest people live. Among the rural poor, women are the poorest and Indigenous women are the most vulnerable.
  • The department of Alta Verapaz is the poorest in the country with 83.1 % of the population living in poverty, and 53 % living in extreme poverty. The department is predominantly rural (76.4%) and has a high Indigenous population of primarily Q’eqchi descent (93.5%).
  • Alta Verapaz displays a low percentage of population that is economically active, 37.2 %. Economic participation of women, as measured for participating in the formal economy, is extremely low at 7.23 % and underemployment and unemployment are serious challenge for women and youth.
  • Alta Verapaz displays high rates of early marriage (30% are married before 18), early pregnancies and high maternal mortality (3 times higher among indigenous women than non-indigenous women).



Paula Baker
Oxfam Canada
Media Relations
(613) 240-3047


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