M8: For a Guatemala That Turns Congratulations into Action

Internationally, March 8 of each year represents an important date for each and every woman in society, International Women’s Day. However, more than a day of celebration, congratulations or giving flowers or chocolates, March 8 is a day to commemorate, remember and act in the search for true gender equality. As women, we need the congratulations we receive on this special day to become real actions that promote that all women achieve a dignified life, free of violence and with access to the same opportunities as men.

Hearing congratulations for being a woman in a country like Guatemala, which is ranked 113th out of 146 countries worldwide and last in the region in terms of gender equality, is something that needs to be improved. In Guatemala, we need to make being a woman a synonym of pride and dignity and not a limiting factor in our integral development due to inequality.

Guatemala stands out as one of the countries with the lowest economic participation of women (117th place) and the lowest female political participation (119th place) (World Economic Forum, 2022). In addition, UN (2017) notes that the wage gap between Guatemalan women and men is 32%. That is, in Guatemala for every Q100 a man earns, a woman earns Q68, working an average of 13 hours a day, while men work 11. A situation that mainly affects migrant, indigenous, rural women and young women. Only 37% of Guatemalan women participate in the formal labor market (in contrast to 85% of men); only 27% run their own business and only 28% have access to financial markets (in contrast to 66% of men (USAID, 2023).

So, as women we ask ourselves, is it really something to congratulate being a woman in Guatemala, and can we transform these congratulations into sustainable and impactful actions for women?

At Habitat for Humanity Guatemala (HFHG), we faithfully believe that support for women should be reflected in actions. Therefore, we seek and carry out projects that aim to provide the female empowerment that is needed not only for the benefit of women but also as a boost for the integral development of society as a whole.

Currently, women represent 53% of the beneficiaries of HPHG programs (HPHG, 2020). Such as the Revolving Fund for Humanity program, which provides financial support for the construction of housing solutions. As well as in projects focused on entrepreneurship and income improvement, such as the poultry farms in Morales, Izabal, implemented in 2020 and 2021, which allowed them to have a livelihood for self-consumption and sale.

Likewise, HFHG through the regional Habitat for Humanity and FICEM project called: “100 Thousand Floors to Play On” seeks to replace dirt floors with concrete floors from 2023 to 2025, mainly supporting Guatemalan families where women are the head of household and with children under 6 years of age, older adults, and/or people with disabilities.

Through support in the construction, training and delivery of housing solutions such as wood-saving stoves, latrines, water purification filters and rainwater harvesters, we promote Guatemalan women’s access to dignified, healthy and safe water, hygiene and sanitation solutions. With wood-saving stoves, smoke inhalation is reduced due to the practice of cooking over an open fire, which affects the health mainly of women and young children who spend the most time in the kitchen (HFHG, 2023). This reduces respiratory illnesses by up to 81%. Water filters and rainwater harvesters improve regular access to safe drinking water for human consumption and have a positive impact on the reduction of time spent collecting water, which is usually done by women in the household and to which, in some cases, they dedicate up to 4 or 5 hours a day, allowing them to have time to devote to other tasks such as starting their own business or studying. Finally, through adequate latrines, the lack of safe water and sanitation facilities, the practice of open defecation and one of the main causes of school dropout mainly in women when girls begin menstruation are combated (Adukia, 2016).

That is why, instead of congratulating them on this important date, today HFHG tells Guatemalan women that we will continue with our commitment to develop innovative, sustainable and high impact housing projects that allow all women to empower themselves and have access to a more dignified life. We know that an important step in the quest for Guatemala’s integral development is promoting and acting to improve the current development of Guatemalan women, since we cannot advance as a country when 51% of our population continues to live in conditions of inequality and insecurity.


Written by: Daniela Ramirez, International Resource Development Coordinator.



Adukia, A. (2016). Sanitation and Education. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Hábitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. (2020). Memoria de labores: 2019. Guatemala.

Habitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. (2023). Hábitat para la Humanidad Guatemala. Obtenido de https://www.habitatguate.org/about-us/products/

ICEFI. (2021). Mujeres De Guatemala: Un análisis de sus condiciones económicas y sociales. Guatemala: ICEFI.

Naciones Unidas en Guatemala. (8 de marzo de 2017). Comunicado de prensa: Las mujeres guatemaltecas, hacia un planeta 50-50. Guatemala, Guatemala.

USAID. (enero de 2023). Women in Guatemala. Obtenido de https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/2023-03/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20Women%2001.2023.pdf

World Economic Forum. (Julio de 2022). Global Gender Report: 2022 . Genova, Suiza.

Blanca Rosales – Byran/College Station HFH

Like many Guatemalan families, for Blanca and her two sons, Edgar and Jorge, the dream of owning a safe space to call home was far from being fulfilled.  

They have lived in Santa Cruz, El Quiché for a many years. Blanca works in the fields, while Edgar and Jorge work as mason’s helpers.  

Their old house was built with corrugated metal sheets and dirt floor, which caused them several problems, especially during rainy season, as the water would leak into the house and get everything wet, in addition to affecting their health. 

Thanks to the support of Bryan/College Station HFH, in coordination with Habitat Guatemala, the Rosales family is now living in their new Hybrid Home. Blanca and her sons are excited to finally have a safe place from their own, free of rainwater and dirt. “It’s something as simple as having a door. We didn’t have one, we only had a curtain. Now, we have our own doors, and it makes me very happy and grateful,” – says Blanca. 

In addition to their new Hybrid Home, the family also received a Healthy Home Kit that includes a smokeless stove, a water filter, a pila (water station) and a sanitary latrine to provide them with basic services and improve their living conditions. 

Blanca shares a message for the donors: “Every day, I thank God, and I pray that He sends many blessings to you and everyone who supported us to build our home. Thank you!” 





#Myhabitatexperience – Sayra López

My name is Sayra Nohemi Lopez, I am 30 years old, I have a degree in Social Work, single, my residence is located in Puerto Barrios, Izabal, Guatemala, I live with my mother and my brothers I consider myself a responsible person with extensive teamwork skills, creativity and service to others, as well as the ability to learn fast. I am the Educator of the Izabal affiliate. 

My work experience has been in the service of the population; which made me fall in love with my profession and allowed me to feel that I am being part of the development and wellbeing of communities and families so that they become resilient and obtain a better quality of life. 

I have been volunteering for 15 years with the Red Cross movement and that experience has helped me in my work.  

Why Habitat Guatemala?

When researching about the Organization I was attracted by its vision and mission and some testimonials I found; I felt that it adapted to the fact that I like to support families and work with volunteers, so I applied for the position and got selected to work with Habitat Guatemala and I am sure that it was my best choice, I have put my knowledge into practice and I have learned even more. 

Your Habitat Experience

 I started working for Habitat Guatemala on March 4, 2017,  I have 5 years of belonging to the Organization; where I have had contact with a large number of community families training on issues of Healthy Homes, Risk Management, Financial Education, Self-Esteem, and constructive issues, in wood-saving stoves, concrete floors, sinks, community family chicken coops which have been subsidized to families with the Program of Attention to Extreme Poverty and support for families affected in tropical storms.    

 I have also worked hand to hand with volunteers in following up with families who wish to improve their quality of life through social credits for the construction of housing; encouraging volunteers in the area in the commitment to serve others, thus cultivating the love of humanity and working selflessly for the development of others.  Also training them in leadership, organization and community participation, principles and values,  conflict management and communication. In order to strengthen the capacity and leadership of each volunteer to support the communities positively impacting their development. 

 I have seen firsthand the needs of the communities, as well as the transformation of the quality of life of the families through the projects and solutions provided by Habitat Guetemala, among those lives is mine, not only gave me the opportunity to grow professionally, but also in the realization of the dream that every family has, and that is to build my own home. 

A message to the Habitat community

To help our neighbor we do not need to have goods but only our will and a spirit of service and that in our heart we never run out of humanity, I share with you this quote 

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa



Carlos Bolanos, Telma de Bolanos – HFH South

Carlos (44) and Thelma (42) live in their new house in Guastatoya, El Progreso.  

Carlos worked as a mason on a Habitat construction site, which is how they learned about the housing programs . After renting for a long time, they inherited a land and decided to start the construction of their own home.  Now Carlos and Thelma have a nice home for them and their children where they will grow safely. 

“The days of work with the volunteer brigade are unforgettable for us.” Telma says. They were all very nice and helpful. We thank them again from the bottom of our hearts for their support and for the wonderful time we spent together. Carlos Bolaños. 









Karla Margoth Ardón Coronado – South Co

Karla  (24) lives with her daughter Deyanara (1.5) and her mother Blanca in Guastatoya, El Progreso. She greets us joyfully and shows us her new house. 

Karla’s brother, Christian, worked as a mason on a Habitat Guatemala construction site and introduced her the possibility of building a home.   

Before, we rented for years, our dream was to have our own house. And now we are very happy here, we have peace, and privacy. Now we can live with dignity. Thank you!” – Karla 

The family can now can save money that was used on rent and focus on more productive activities in the home.  

When the volunteers were here it was very interesting for us. Especially that the women also worked normally on the construction site. We are very grateful! Now we have our own house. Thank you!” – Karla and her mother tell us smiling. 








Leslie Alexandra González Fajardo – HFH Omaha

Leslie (35) lives in her new house on the outskirts of Sanarate, El Progreso with her mother Dolores (61) and her son Hessle (14). 

Leslie works at the Social Security Office in Guatemala City. For many years, Leslie and her motherlived with relatives or renting.  

In 2019, they heard about the possibility of building a house with Habitat Guatemala.  

“The local Habitat staff helped us to apply, then everything happened quickly. After only 6 months we moved in!” – she tells us joyfully. “We do feel very secure here.” 

When asked about the experience of working with volunteers, Leslie’s mom said: “We are very grateful for the help of the volunteers.  They were all very nice. We worked, ate and laughed together. We feel a great gratitude”. Leslie.  








Aura Alicia Trigueros Estrada – CISCO

“Pase adelante!” – Aura (40) says with her children Mariangel (8) and Hostin (10) as they invite us in to their home high up in the hills of Guastatoya, El Progreso.  

Aura is a single mother of 4 children.For many years, they moved regularily from one rental apartment to the next. Through friends she heard about Habitat Guatemala and with hard work, Aura managed to buy a land where she could build a home. The Habitat Guatemala staff helped her with the paperwork and the build. 

“Our last housing was made of wood and plastic, it was not good for us, the children were sick all the time. Now, we have a beautiful house. I can’t tell you how happy we are! Thanks to God and to all of you!” – Aura 

She proudly tells us about her chicken in the garden and that they always have fresh eggs. Next, she would like to buy a new gate and improve the entrance area of the plot. 

Regarding her experience working with the volunteers, Aura said: “When the volunteers came, we became friends. They really helped us a lot, thank you so much for that, I hope everyone is doing well wherever they are right now. I hope that one day we can meet again“. 








Dalila Coronaro Romero – CISCO

On the small terrace of her house overlooking Guastatoya, El Progreso, Dalila (46) welcomes us with a shy smile. She lives here as a single mother with her youngest daughter Gracieli (16). In the past, Dalila was rejected multiple times for a mortage. After inheritering a land from her father, a donor was found to help her build her home.  

“The Habitat staff here in Guastatoya was very helpful. Over the past 25 years, I have moved many times. I wanted very much to have my own house to live with dignity.” – Dalila 

Dalila and her daughter now have a safe place to call home and also plan to improve the terrace of her house in the future. She wanted to thank the volunteers for their support in building her new home: “It was a pleasure to work with the volunteers. I  invite them to come to visit me soon. I bless each and every one of you. Thank you!