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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 68-69

Empowering the vulnerable and disadvantaged girls from the indigenous community of Guatemala


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication12-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jcrsm.jcrsm_17_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Empowering the vulnerable and disadvantaged girls from the indigenous community of Guatemala. J Curr Res Sci Med 2017;3:68-9

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Empowering the vulnerable and disadvantaged girls from the indigenous community of Guatemala. J Curr Res Sci Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2020 Nov 30];3:68-9. Available from: https://www.jcrsmed.org/text.asp?2017/3/1/68/210339

Dear Sir,

School dropout is quite a common phenomenon among girls residing in developing nations and areas where gender inequality is prevalent.[1],[2] The situation becomes even more common in areas where schools are located in distant locations as parents are often afraid about the safety of their daughters.[3] At the same time, the prevalence of sociocultural norms such as seeing no purpose in educating a girl child or women should only learn to do domestic chores or that position of women in society is inferior to men, also play a defining role in school dropouts of girls.[1],[2]

Similar kinds of trend have been observed in different parts of Guatemala, with many girls having been forced to dropout of school due to the far location of the existing schools.[3] The girls from different indigenous communities have to travel through challenging routes, and even their safety is questionable.[3] Further, people from these communities have been exposed to discrimination and gender-based violence, and thus due to the fear of harassment, many parents are not in favor of sending their girl child to school.[3],[4] The findings of a study performed in 2015 indicated that nine out of ten girls who got married or became pregnant dropped out of their school and that only 40% of girls were aware about different modes to prevent pregnancy.[3]

To respond to the problem in the region, the United Nations Population Foundation has launched an opening opportunities program, almost 12 years back.[3] The program has provided bicycles to more than 250 girls who had either dropped out of school or were the potential candidates for the same.[3] These bicycles have not only neutralized the problem of transport but even have enhanced the safety standards of the girls and given them the power of autonomy to not settle with anything less than what they deserve.[3] Considering that a major proportion of the families are from poor socioeconomic status with minimal access to basic welfare services, any attempt to enable a girl child to pursue her education will pay rich dividend to her own family and society in the future.[3]

Moreover, the program also assists the girls in providing them with comprehensive sexuality education, and aids the local leaders to support and empower girls from their locality.[3],[4] Nevertheless, provision of bicycles alone cannot sort out the entire problem, and there is a great need to involve community leaders to actively support the education of girls and discourage the practice of child marriage.[3] Thus, more than 2500 girls (either about to start their high school or have already dropped out of the schools) have been recognized in the nation and linked with mentors from the community.[3] The selected mentors are young women, who can speak the local language and have been trained in the art of empowering youth by providing insights about different dimensions of comprehensive sexuality education.[3],[4] In fact, till date, the program has been useful for more than 13,500 girls and adolescents in the nation.[3]

To conclude, different initiatives have been tried to aid the poor rural girls of the nation and all efforts have been taken to empower them with necessary information, education, and transportation, to eventually prepare them to meet future challenges.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Ending child marriage: Battling for a girl's right to choose. Prim Healthc 2016;6:e114.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]    
2.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Implementing universal minimal standards to counter the challenge of gender-based violence in emergencies. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:289-90.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
3.
United Nations Population Fund. With Bicycles, Impoverished Indigenous Girls in Guatemala Get a Taste of Freedom; 2017. Available from: http://www.unfpa.org/news/bicycles-impoverished-indigenous-girls-guatemala-get-taste-freedom. [Last accessed on 2017 Apr 26].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Alonzo J, Mann L, Simán F, Sun CJ, Andrade M, Villatoro G, et al. Perspectives to improve the sexual health of sexual and gender identity minorities in Guatemala. EHQUIDAD 2016;5:51-70.  Back to cited text no. 4
    




 

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