From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala endured a violent civil war. Genocidal massacres against the indigenous population were perpetrated by the authoritarian, U.S. organized and funded military. It is estimated that over 200,000 people (mostly rural, low income, indigenous Guatemalans) were killed or forcibly disappeared during conflict.

After 36 years of civil war, Guatemala has had notable economic growth and a series of successive democratic elections. However, indigenous Guatemalans continue to feel the effects of the war. Despite comprising 45-60% of the population, indigenous Guatemalans continue to face extreme prejudice when it comes to political participation, health, employment, income, housing, and education.

In addition, Guatemala suffers from extreme poverty, corruption, and most recently, transnational gang violence. Guatemala has the 4th highest rate of femicide (murders of women and girls) in Latin America.

Why Guatemala?

Guatemala has strong women leaders, but young Guatemalan women lack opportunity

Despite the high levels of violence against women, Guatemala has always had strong women leaders who have spoken out to promote human rights at all costs. Women like Rigoberta Menchu, Thelma Cabrera, and Helen Mack Chang have made Guatemala a more prosperous and equal place, while opening the doors for other young women to follow.

That being said, young people still need more opportunities beyond violence. Educational opportunities are lacking at all levels, especially for girls. In some parts of Guatemala, there is a boy and a half in school for every girl. 80% of men are literate, compared to 58% of women. The chances are slim for women to pursue a degree in Guatemala and even slimmer for those who come from low-income backgrounds.

SHE-CAN connects passionate women with educational opportunities

SHE-CAN hopes to connect young Guatemalan women—and eventually, young, indigenous Guatemalan women—with the next step on their educational journeys. Guatemala needs strong leaders to help Guatemala recover from its past and be a major player in our globalized world.

Not to mention, as racism and discrimination towards Latin American countries continues to grows in our current political climate, we believe there is a need for more Latinx and indigenous students on U.S. college campuses to be ambassadors of their countries and support global literacy.

Our scholars will help Guatemala become a more peaceful and prosperous place

We believe that with the support and quality of our program and schools, our scholars will be ready to be the future leaders of Guatemala. With our scholars leading the way, Guatemala will only continue to move upwards on the path towards peace, justice, and equal opportunity for all.

SHE-CAN’s first class of Guatemalan scholars