Yesterday I visited the Dirección Municipal de la Mujer (DMM) to speak with the director, Martina P.V. She explained that they used to be called The Office of the Woman but under that title they had little to no real funding for their work. Now they have the title, “Dirreción Municipal” (roughly translates to “management” or “administration”) which enables them to have funding for their services. Lic. Martina has worked with the office for four years and became its director in 2016.
[Photo: Lic. Martina is center, flanked by her assistant, Adriana L.L. (right) and an office intern whose name I missed (left). The intern is about to finish her internship and return to her college studies.]
I invited my colleague, Miho S., to join me. Miho and I share the same office and she is a Volunteer from JICA, Japan’s service organization that is similar to the Peace Corps. Miho is a nutritionist and her work, like mine, involves working with the educational community. [Photo: Miho, holding handmade flowers for Valentine’s Day and me.]
Lic. Martina explained that the purpose of her office’s work is to understand the issues and problems that women face in the region and to provide strategies, resources and referrals to them. There are thirty communities governed by our municipality and each group has its own group of women with its own name. Each women’s group is led by a president and other officers. The DMM meets with each group on a regular basis for dialogues and presentations. Group meetings can range in size from 50 to a couple hundred attendees.
I asked Lic. Martina if there were any notable differences between the groups. She said that groups that are closer in distance to the municipality (the governing town of this region) are more active and vocal. Of the groups that are further away, less members attend the group meetings and of those that attend, they are less vocal. She also mentioned that domestic violence by the husband is more of a norm in the groups further from the municipality and women are unlikely to complain about it publicly or officially.
I asked Lic. Martina what she felt was the strongest work of her office and she replied that it was the help that they gave to women and children in domestic violence cases. She explained that sometimes husbands abuse their wives and then abandon them. Many times, the women have no employment and are left to care for their children. The DMM office deals with the fallout in those cases, offering resources for employment, financial aid and housing to the women.
I confess that Lic. Martina gave us a lot of information that sailed over my head because of my lack of Spanish fluency. I’m impressed with the herculean work of Lic. Martina and Adriana and eager to continue our alliance. Miho and I were invited to give presentations to one of the women’s group this month. We will give our presentations in Spanish and someone will translate them into K’iche. We’ve also been invited to speak at the DMM’s International Women’s Day celebration! 🌺 !
Before I end here, let me explain titles because in Guatemala’s professional realm, titles are sometimes important.
Licenciada/Licenciado: Refers to someone that has graduated from college. The abbreviation is “Lic” and when it’s written it is: “Lic.” and the first name of the person is added. ex: Lic. Eloisa
Professora/Professor: Teachers of any grade level, including primary school. People often say, “Profe” or “Profa” for short. ex: Profa Eloisa
Maestra/Maestro: This means “teacher” but note that a teacher of grades K – 12th grade does not need a college degree.
Seño: This is used for Señoritas (unmarried woman) and Señoras (married woman), to bypass guessing marital status.
Señor: A man regardless of marital status.
That’s it for this post. Stay tuned for more!