In Guatemala, where poverty, inequality, and ethnic and gender discrimination are prevalent and where over 40 percent of the country’s 11 million inhabitants are under age 15, the transition from childhood to adulthood is often characterized by severe social, economic, and health problems. Existing data indicate that adolescent girls in Guatemala—most specifically indigenous girls—suffer from the highest rates of school desertion, early and unwanted pregnancy, malnutrition, illiteracy, and limited life options. Access to health, education, and other services is lacking or inadequate for indigenous adolescents in Guatemala, and often plagued by barriers including lack of financial resources, language, discrimination, and deeply engrained cultural traditions and beliefs that perpetuate gender inequity. This report focuses on qualitative, ethnographic research findings from a study conducted by the Population Council in 2003 with young Mayan women and men aged 12–19. Participatory methods were chosen to allow participants to explain in their own words what living and growing up in their communities is like, what they aspire to, what challenges they face, and what opportunities they are able to identify.
Colom, Alejandra, Marta Julia Ruiz, Jennifer Catino, Kelly Hallman, Sara Peracca, and Kristen M. Shellenberg. 2005. "Voices of vulnerable and underserved adolescents in Guatemala: A summary of the qualitative study 'Understanding the lives of indigenous young people in Guatemala.'" Guatemala City: Population Council.