In Guatemala, A Young Woman Takes a Stand

Isabela’s story was originally featured in our 2013-2014 annual report. Read the full report online here!

“People told us we couldn’t participate, that we couldn’t work, because we were women.” But Isabela Alonzo Martín set out to prove them wrong.

Isabela Alonzo Martín

Isabela Alonzo Martín

A young Maya Chuj just 21 years old, Isabela has already made a name for herself as a passionate and articulate advocate for women’s rights and environmental conservation in and around the town of San Mateo Ixtatán in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Since 2012, she has been the Coordinator of the Municipal Office of Women—a local initiative organized to bring greater rights and opportunities to the indigenous women of San Mateo Ixtatán and the surrounding communities.

Women, and especially indigenous women, are now pioneers of environmental conservation in the area, which Isabela is proud to note. EcoLogic has helped its local partner in the area, the Northern Border Municipalities Alliance (Mancomunidad de Municipios Frontera del Norte, or MFN) train and educate community members in sustainable forest management and reforestation. Many women now work as “forest guardians” who plant seedlings, take care of standing forests, and educate other members of their communities about the importance of conservation. “The trainings that EcoLogic has organized have been incredibly important for us. Most women in this area cannot read, and before EcoLogic started working with us, they knew hardly anything about the environment. Thanks to EcoLogic’s help, women are educated and empowered to work, and to take care of our precious natural resources for the greater good of their whole community.”

Isabela’s work is still far from complete. “Women are always the most vulnerable, and the most forgotten. The hard work that we do, every day, especially in our homes, is never recognized,” Isabela says with an edge of frustration in her voice. But thanks to both her leadership and the resources that EcoLogic has provided to her community, more women than ever in San Mateo Ixtatán have found opportunities to work—while protecting and restoring the ecosystems upon which their families and their communities depend.

“I am motivated to work to ensure that the women in my community are recognized, that our rights are respected, and to prove that we do contribute, every day. I work for all women. That’s what inspires me.” She hopes that other young women in Guatemala will also be able to rise above barriers and achieve their full potential. “The most important thing is perseverance,” she advises. “You will have critics, but don’t ever doubt yourself. Believe in yourself, keep confident, and you will achieve your dreams.”

“I want to thank EcoLogic again on behalf of all of the women here,” she says. It is thanks to your support that EcoLogic is able to provide passionate advocates like Isabela the resources and training they need to overcome the barriers keeping them from achieving their dreams. In thanking us, she is really thanking you. Make a gift today.

Watch this video to hear Isabela’s story in her own voice:

Want to learn more about EcoLogic? Read our 2013-2014 annual report online here for more stories like Isabela’s.

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