Guatemala’s population is poorer, less educated, faster growing, and more ethnically diverse than most others in Latin America. The country’s fertility and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the region. Nearly half of the Guatemalan population is indigenous, and more than 20 Mayan ethnic groups live in isolated rural areas with limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation, schooling, and health care. Mayan girls are the country’s most disadvantaged group, leading lives characterized by limited schooling, early marriage, frequent childbearing, social isolation, and chronic poverty. The Population Council, in collaboration with local and international partners, launched Abriendo Oportunidades (“Opening Opportunities”) in 2004 to increase Mayan girls’ social support networks, connect them with role models and mentors, build life and leadership skills, and provide professional training and experience. The program makes critical investments in girls aged 8–18 to help them navigate adolescent transitions successfully. Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief No. 5 reviews Abriendo’s history and its current work to train girl leaders to address violence at the community level.
Catino, Jennifer, Alejandra Colom, and Marta Julia Ruiz. 2011. "Equipping Mayan girls to improve their lives," Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief no. 5. New York: Population Council.
Abriendo Oportunidades (“Opening Opportunities”)