MIRIAM – GUATEMALA: GENDER EDUCATION IN TIMES OF COVID

Published: June 16, 2021

The Association Ixoqib’ MIRIAM is an organisation of indigenous Guatemalan women led by graduates of the Education and Empowerment Programme. The association specialises in the promotion of education, gender justice, prevention of violence against women, adolescents and girls, and comprehensive care and reparation for victims of violence using a decolonial feminist approach including the Mayan cosmovision.

The past year and the global pandemic brought many challenges for MIRIAM. We overcame most of them with a lot of solidarity, creativity, patience and understanding from all those involved. Since April, almost all MIRIAM activities have moved to an online mode. First, we bought one Zoom account, then another, and currently we are working with four. This way we are able to carry out different activities at the same time.

Pastoral Social del Grupo Jucenirl de Lecotres de la Iglesia Catolica de Chinique

How to deal with a global pandemic?

Initially, we were concerned that the scholarship holders would abandon their studies and schooling due to the lack of computers and internet access, but fortunately this only happened in one case, because the women were able to activate their support networks and MIRIAM helped them as much as possible. MIRIAM covers the internet costs of the scholarship holders for all training activities within the framework of the gender courses, tutoring, psychological support and discussion circles and public presentations. And that is no small thing, because a recharge costs 4 euros per person and event.

Taller de apertura

Finding solutions together

However, the process of training the promotoras at the community level posed special difficulties for us, as many of them do not have smartphones and attending the training events in person was not possible due to the restrictions. So we had to create materials that could be used locally and autonomously by the promotoras. The material also had to be flexible enough to be used both for remote events and virtual workshops as well as for physical events. At first we wanted to hire a consultant, but then we decided to develop the material ourselves and collectively.

Mural para el stand informativo Palin Escuintla

What we have achieved together

First, the team was trained and we did a course on the development of digital pedagogical elements and for the Moodle platform, where we now upload our courses. Next, the interns were trained in the production of animated PowerPoint productions, videos and podcasts. Finally, we coordinated 50 scholarship holders and developed the materials for the 4 workshops together: 4 reading texts and pedagogically mediated workbooks each, artistically designed by scholarship holder Aurora Soy, infographics, meditation instructions, powerpoint presentation videos and podcasts. On this basis, 300 local promotoras were trained in September, October and November. We had one meeting after the other, but no one complained about the additional demands, because working and coping with the COVID-19 emergency together motivated and united the women.

Sharing is caring

These are the topics covered in the material prepared for the local promotoras:

Physical and virtual perspectives

But it was not only the educational events that were digitised, but also the entire administration and accounting with the introduction of online transfers, the use of the cloud and the implementation of a digital signature system. It was not until the end of the year that we were able to meet face-to-face again. The annual meeting of the promotoras was held on a smaller scale and at regional level, so that we could get together for the first time since the last General Assembly, which was held on 15 March, 2020 – the last day before the lockdown. We then organised an evaluation and planning meeting of the team and the board. Time flew and the year came to an end.

Stand informativo palin escuintla

What about this year? It will continue in a similar way, because at the moment we are in the third, fourth or fifth wave of the pandemic. By now, it’s kind of impossible to keep track.

Susanne Kummer

Susanne Kummer

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