Raising Her Voice

Empowering women to engage effectively in governance

Move your chair into the circle: Indigenous women’s political participation in Guatemala

"I started getting involved in community politics and working in organizations. There, with the women's groups, is where I learnt what it really means to organize. (They teach you about organization at university, but it's not the same.) I learnt about politics from the elders, the ancestral authorities.

 "In the meetings, it was all men and then me, little Bertha. My chair was in the corner, outside their circle. I sat there and listened in meeting after meeting, wondering when I would be invited to speak.

"After a whole month had passed by without my saying a word, I finally went up to one of the leaders and asked him when they would let me contribute. He said 'Bertha... you have had a whole month to move your chair into the circle..!'

"That was my first lesson in politics: I learnt that not only can I not let them exclude me - I also mustn't exclude myself. They put my chair in the corner, but it is up to me to move it - both literally and politically speaking.

Jenny Enarsson Regional Gender Adviser, Latin America and the Caribbean talks to Bertha Zapeta from the indigenous Guatemalan organization Makatitlan, now working with three RHV partner organisations in Guatemala to support their work to build women's political education and leadership. Read the full blog at http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2012/08/indigenous-womens-...

 

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