Photo above: Lillian, second from right, attends Convoy of Hope’s CADA program in Guatemala.
Globally, women do more than three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men. Worldwide, 1 out of 5 girls is married before she turns 18. In Guatemala, only 37 percent of women participate in the formal labor market, as opposed to 85 percent of men.
Women in Guatemala also struggle to access social services, such as education and health. Convoy of Hope is helping to fill this gap of access to resources for women through its Center for Outreach, Development, and Friendship (CADA is the acronym in Spanish), a model unique to Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment programming in Guatemala.
When women participate in Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment program around the world, the cycle of poverty is broken. Convoy partners with women as they start their own businesses and support their families. Convoy empowers women to advocate for themselves, creating opportunities that last for generations.
For the first part of her adult life, Lillian lived in an abusive household. “I felt unable to do anything by myself and always depended on other people,” she said. Then Lillian started attending CADA. There, Lillian’s teachers and classmates helped her find her voice.
Through the CADA vocational training center, women are empowered not only economically, but also emotionally through weekly mentorship. The center offers specializations in various income-generating activities, such as sewing, cosmetology, culinary arts, and computer skills. This year, CADA incorporated English language courses, which Lillian is a part of.
Participants who complete CADA’s vocational program receive accredited certification, opening opportunities for them in the marketplace. Through these programs, women gain the tools to break the cycle of poverty in their families and communities. Next week, 86 women will graduate — equipped and credentialed to join the Guatemala workforce in their respective trades.
“Before, I felt disappointed, and now I feel successful,” Lillian said. “The opportunity to study at CADA has changed my way of thinking. I am a secure woman. I know I am capable.”
Now Lillian dreams of starting her own business. Her classes at CADA and the support from Convoy of Hope will help her along the way.