From June 26 to June 30, Vital Voices Guatemala carried out a week of “Women’s Political Strengthening,” which counted on the participation of over 600 individuals from different sectors, including women’s groups, professionals, academics, and the general public.
The central focus of this week was the visit of Dr. Carol Lancaster, Director of the Mortara Center for International Studies at Georgetown University, and a member of Vital Voices Global Partnership Board of Directors. Dr. Lancaster, who obtained her doctoral degree in International Relations at the London School of Economics and has written numerous books and articles, was in Guatemala to share her knowledge and ample experience in international politics, economic development, and the stabilization of governments and democratic states.
During her visit, Dr. Lancaster was interviewed by GuatevisiĢ_n, Canal Antigua Telediario, Radio Infinita, and Radio Fabulosa. Her stay also included a visit to JocotĢĮn, Chiquimula, during which she learned about the work of Kiej de los Bosques, an organization started by Maria Pacheco, who also founded the Vital Voices Chapter in Guatemala. Dr. Lancaster gained insight into how the community in JocotĢĮn managed to come out of hunger and poverty through a successful sustainable development model based on the implementation of production chains.
She continued her visit to the capital city with a series of meetings and political training workshops, which focused on diverse topics of importance to Guatemala’s political and social development. In a meeting with heads of Congress, which also included U.S. Ambassador Stephen McFarland, Dr. Lancaster emphasized the importance of “establishing a new social contract between Congress and civil society, by undertaking new reforms, strengthening the justice system, and supporting civil society’s petitions for transparency.” (El PeriĢ_dico, Guatemala)
Dr. Lancaster also noted the need to expand political leadership spaces for women. Her words triggered a positive response from Congressional President Roberto Alejos, who stated: “We have a strong legislative agenda and it is important to count on the participation of women.” (El PeriĢ_dico, Guatemala)
Dr. Lancaster also hosted a conference that was open to the public, called “Challenges and Opportunities for Guatemala,” in which she tackled issues of politics in Guatemala, the degree of women’s participation in that sector, the challenges that the country must recognize in order to achieve Rule of Law, and the opportunities that exist in the midst of hopelessness.
Those who participated in this week of “Women’s Political Strengthening,” were enriched by the knowledge that Dr. Lancaster imparted in issues that are relevant to Guatemala’s political, economic, and social development.