My name is Gaby and I’m a human rights lawyer. I work for an organization called Alas de Mariposas, which promotes our government’s compliance with women’s human rights in Guatemala and provides support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
I live in Guatemala City, which is a very dangerous place for women. Actually, Guatemala has one of the highest levels of violence against women and girls in the world. This is particularly bad, considering we are not a country in conflict. That’s why we work for women survivors and provide them with medical psychological attention and legal advice. We also work for their physical and political empowerment of these women through workshops. We also monitor how Guatemala’s government applies –or not – women related laws and public policies.
What I like the most about my current work at Alas de Mariposas, is witnessing how women get better when they feel they’re not alone anymore. How they leave behind years of abuse and start rebuilding their lives, in their own terms. I frequently witness amazing transformations in the women we work with, in their daughters and sons, in their whole families. This drives me and makes me feel like all of our hard work is worth it.
Also, as a lawyer, it’s very fulfilling to observe how legal processes become more successful when women truly understand and become active participants in their cases. It’s also very motivating to witness how the latest laws that protect women from gender-based violence are starting to produce their results and saving women’s lives throughout the country.
It was a hard decision for me to come to Canada and participate in the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program. I found it very difficult to put a pause on my work, because I’m very passionate about it. In the end I know how important it is to improve my skills and become a better advocate, not only in my work but also for my organization and the women we support. I feel very honored that I was selected to participate in this program and think it’s an absolutely amazing experience.
Lastly, I want to share that here has been a long and difficult struggle for women’s rights organizations in Guatemala to make our country a better country for women and girls, and I am very proud to have worked with or to know a lot of these incredible women, I’m also very fortunate I had my mother as an example. From her I learned a deep sense of justice.
There’s still much to do, but I’m sure the enormous strength shown by women in my country will continue and make even bigger changes for our future.
Read the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program blog to find out more about Gabriela’s experience in Canada.