After 36 years of internal, armed conflict in Guatemala, a peace agreement was signed between the government and the guerrilla movement URNG in 1996. Violence and crime have increased dramatically in recent years, especially violence against women, which has increased in both scope and cruelty. The police and the judicial system are characterised by inefficiency, corruption and the influence of organised crime.
Guatemala is still a country characterised by great social differences and little political influence for most people. About half of Guatemala's population is indigenous, and Mayans constitute the largest group. Indigenous peoples are still subjected to widespread discrimination, although increased awareness and or-ganisation give hope that this can be changed.
Gender justice: Women's rights and equality are of paramount importance for our work in Guatemala. Together with our partners, both women's organisations and church-based organisations, we work to combat violence against women. In 2008, authorities ratified a law on violence against women – so-called femicide – to meet the enormous challenges facing the country. Ensuring that this law is implemented is part of our work.
We also support efforts to increase women's political participation at both local and national levels. In addition, we work with various churches in Guatemala to promote women's rights and participation.
Economic justice: Guatemala's government has given foreign companies major rights in the extraction of gold and other minerals throughout the country. Open pits in the Indian highlands lead to, among other things, extensive environmental problems and interventions in areas primarily inhabited by Mayans.
Norwegian Church Aid supports Mayan organisations working for indigenous rights, including leadership training given especially to women. We also support people's right to participation concerning areas with minerals, forests and water resources.
Coordination through the ACT Alliance
Norwegian Church Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance’s international network. We have regular meetings with the other ACT members working in Guatemala to coordinate our activities, streamline cooperation with local partners and develop joint plans for capacity building and disaster work.