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Mayan and Garifuna women building a life with dignity and justice

Project name

Mayan and Garifuna women building a life with dignity and justice

It is part of the Program

Identity and Rights of Indigenous and Native Women.

Period of execution

2016 – 2018. 

Participating population

The project involves the participation of 40 Mayan and Garifuna women leaders and rights defenders, 400 women from 20 grassroots organizations in Quiché and Izabal, 20 leaders of the Political Council and 8 leaders of the Minor Council, and 6 members of the technical team.

Its objective is to promote the free exercise of individual and collective rights of Mayan and Garifuna women, favoring their recognition by the State and Guatemalan society. Therefore, it is framed within the Program’s theory of change.


European Commission


The Mayan and Garifuna Women Building a Dignified Life with Justice Project is implemented by the Tz’ununija’ Indigenous Women’s Movement, a strategic ally of CARE, in the implementation of actions for the vindication of the individual and collective rights of indigenous women in Guatemala.

This project aims to help Mayan and Garifuna women, who face the permanent violation of their rights and fundamental freedoms, to have the technical, political and organizational management skills to promote, defend and exercise their rights.

On the other hand, it includes their articulation with other human rights organizations of the civil society. Likewise, advocacy and joint work with the justice system, to incorporate recommendations that allow its operators to address cases of violence or violation of rights, incorporating a perspective of ethnic-cultural diversity and gender equality.

In this way, these entities will contribute to the recognition and appreciation of the social role and importance of the work of Mayan and Garifuna women defenders. This action contributes to the construction of a democratic State, in which cultural diversity is respected and dialogue and consensus are promoted between the State and human rights organizations, strengthening democratic governance.


The current context in Guatemala, in which human rights violations are systematic, has led to the criminalization of the work of indigenous women who defend individual and collective rights. It has also led to violence, invisibilization and stigmatization of these women who, in addition, currently lack protection measures, self-care, etc.

According to the diagnosis carried out by the Mesoamerican Women Defenders Initiative in 2012, 60% of the cases of violence against women defenders are provoked by public officials (police, municipal officials). The most affected women defenders are from rural areas (indigenous women), where discrimination, violence, racism and inequality are expressed in multiple social, political and economic aspects.

In this context of exclusion and structural violence, the work of women defenders is particularly risky and presents great difficulties that affect their effectiveness. According to data from the Human Rights Defenders Unit -UDEFEGUA-, there has been an average of 2.2 attacks per day against human rights defenders, but there was also an increase of 148 attacks in relation to the previous year.

The report shows a total of 805 attacks and aggressions against defenders in 2013. The largest number of aggressions are concentrated against defenders of land rights, territory, popular consultations (to approve or disapprove projects in the territories) and the environment.

A total of 664 aggressions were concentrated against this group, constituting 82% of all aggressions. Of this total, 60% were against women human rights defenders. [1] From the review of all the reports on the situation of women human rights defenders in Guatemala, it is evident that there is no disaggregated information that considers the specific situations experienced by Mayan and Garifuna women. Therefore, this proposal will contribute with an important contribution that will make this reality visible.

Partners: Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas Tz'ununija' (Tz'ununija' Indigenous Women's Movement)

It is the most important organization of indigenous women’s organizations in the country, with more than 80 organizations located in 13 departments of Guatemala.

It has extensive experience in the promotion, defense and exercise of indigenous women’s rights. It has promoted very important changes in the field of justice, making recommendations at national, regional and international levels to incorporate the specific rights of indigenous women in international instruments (CEDAW).

Since 2008 she has been developing training and healing processes, which gives her ample experience. She is the promoter and direct executor of this action.

Coverage area

Quiché and Izabal.