Background

Photo by Aida, age 17

Voces de Cambio, the only all-girls after-school program in Guatemala, was founded in 2006 to provide a safe space for teenage girls where they are free to imagine a new role for themselves in their homes, schools, and communities. The program was initiated to address two pressing issues in Guatemala: the widespread discrimination against women, and the tremendous lack of constructive opportunities for youth.

Voces de Cambio is based on the premise that each society creates its own ‘social narrative’ – a set of assumptions about one’s role within that society that is passed on from generation to generation – and that to effect lasting change, the aspects of a social narrative that perpetuate injustice must be deconstructed.

In Guatemala, women are relegated to the margins of society, and they are considered to be far less capable than men in almost all respects. In its report titled “No Protection, No Justice: Killings of Women in Guatemala”, Amnesty International stated that, “traditional systems of power and patriarchy remain largely unchallenged in Guatemala […] and stereotypes regarding the subordinate role of women in society are still firmly entrenched.”

Voces de Cambio is an effort to fundamentally change traditional ways of thinking that preclude women in Guatemala from contributing to the development of a just and democratic society.

By providing a safe space, building self-esteem, teaching critical thinking skills, and fostering intellectual and creative growth, Voces de Cambio is addressing the need for a new generation of Guatemalan women to become their country’s future leaders.