In Guatemala, only 15.6 percent of females are educated to at least a secondary school level, compared to 21 percent of males, according to the United Nations’ 2011 Human Development Index.
CFCA continues to champion girlsí rights to an education by raising awareness and encouraging changes that reinforce the importance of a girlís education.
CFCA communications liaison Luis Cocon interviewed Isabel Santizo, CFCA coordinator of the Patz˙n region in Guatemala, about some challenges that girls face to obtain an education and how CFCA helps support their dreams.
Related link: Read about Ortenciaís dream to graduate.
What is your name and how many years have you been with CFCA?
My name is Isabel Santizo, and I have been part of the CFCA family for 13 years.
Why are families reluctant to educate their girl children?
Parents [mainly fathers] believe school is not important for girls because they donít see many graduating from college or high school.
In the region of Patz˙n, I dare say that only 20 percent of our sponsored girls will go to college and maybe 45 percent will go to high school.
Parents see education for girls not as an investment for their future; they see it like an unnecessary expense.
The fact that they are girls is a disadvantage in our culture. Parents give preference to boys. I have met fathers that don’t remember the names of some of their daughters.
What social factors discourage girls from attending school?
First, I would mention the lack of support from the father as we have already talked about.
Then there is the economic factor. Families do not have enough income to send all of their children to school, and so they prefer to provide an education only to the boys.
Finally I would mention safety. Girls are at risk when traveling from their communities to school. They can be raped, robbed and even killed.
So parents decide not to take this risk and prefer to keep their girls at home.
How is CFCA helping to promote the education of girls, and how does educating girls benefit the family and community?
Our CFCA social workers are constantly in touch with sponsored children and their families, and this has strengthened their relationship.
They have worked hard to build trust with families, and they are now at a point where families believe in them and also in CFCA.
Social workers are trained to raise awareness about the importance of educating their children, especially girls. Eventually the results will depend on the degree of trust that each social worker has achieved with the families.
Educated girls can correct many things in their family and in their communities. They will be able to contribute to the economy of the family.
They can help their younger siblings with homework; and they will have a chance to break the cycle of poverty in their family.