Yesterday I visited the Dirección Municipal de la Mujer (DMM) (which is this town’s women’s center) to speak with Director, Lic. 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 the name, “Dirreción Municipal” (roughly translates to “management” or “administration”) enables them to receive city funding for their services. Lic. Martina has worked with the office for four years and became its director in 2016. By the way, “Lic. stands for “Licenciada” which means that one has graduated from university.
[Photo: Lic. Martina is center, flanked by intern, Glory L. (left) and center assistant, Adriana L.L. (right).
I invited my colleague, Miho S., to join me on the visit. Miho and I both work at the Office of Education. 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 within rural schools. [Photo: Miho, giving a talk on nutrition.]
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 community has is represented by group of women leaders (led by a president and other officers). The DMM meets with each group on a regular basis for dialogues and to offer educational presentations. Group meetings can range in size from twenty-five to nearly a hundred attendees.
I asked Lic. Martina if there were any notable differences between the communities. She said that women’s 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 is more common 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 alone. The DMM office deals with the fallout of those cases, offering resources for employment, financial aid and housing to 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 the DMM staff and I’m 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 the 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! 🌺
That’s it for this post. Stay tuned for more!