Historically women have been excluded from the development process, not in the least in Guatemala. Illiteracy levels are high in Guatemala, especially amongst indigenous women, who often speak only their own local Maya language. The traditional gender division of labor assigns to women the responsibility of reproductive tasks (house work and taking care of the children) but in practice they play an active role in productive tasks (generation of income via small enterprises or agricultural production) as well. This double role leads to a heavy work burden for women. Moreover, they have little access to decision-making positions, education, health care services, and land. The latter, having land titles, is an important asset for acquiring a loan.
Microfinance institution ASDIR wants to improve women’s access to financial services and decision-making processes and asked the Center for Rural Development (CDR) to develop, in close collaboration with its personnel, founding members and male and female clients, a gender policy and action plan. In order to bridge the present gender gap, the plan includes affirmative actions like designing financial products specifically for women, defining minimum quotas of participation of women in the Board of Directors and staff, training for personnel and clients (with a focus on women), strengthening the leadership of women and developing their business skills.
Marije van Lidth de Jeude with *CDR for ASDIR*
Location: Totonicapán, Guatemala