Intensive Training opportunity through Let Girls Lead – Honduras


We are pleased to share a new opportunity in Honduras through Let Girls Lead. Let Girls Lead is requesting applications from leaders ages 16-60 to participate in an intensive training program that will strengthen capacity to implement strategies to improve health policy advocacy, human rights, and the social and economic well-being of adolescents. Let Girls Lead is looking for leaders who work in the following areas: human rights, sustainable development, sexual and reproductive health, youth development, micro-credit, public policy advocacy, lobbying, media, education, leadership, gender and other related areas.

The deadline to apply is June 5, 2015. For more information and to download an information sheet and the selection criteria, visit the website of Let Girls Lead:, or contact the Let Girls Lead Country Representative in Honduras, Vanessa Siliezar at

CAMY Fund Visit to ALAS/WINGS in Guatemala

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

On my recent trip to Guatemala I had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of ALAS/WINGS, one of the CAMY Fund’s grantees. Early in the morning on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Michele Frix, SIF’s Director of Programs, and I headed off to Cobán in the northern state of Alta Verapaz.

Panoramic view of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

We reached the city (population: 144,461) in the afternoon and headed to the WINGS office to meet their team. We knew Fidelia Chub, the project leader for the CAMY Fund, but had not yet met her colleagues: Kimberly Morales, Director of Programs, Dominga Torres Morales, who is a Peer Educator along with Fidelia, and Ana Iczep, who is a Health Promoter with the organization. The next day, Michele and I joined Kimberly and Fidelia on a visit to the nearby community of Tanchi in order to meet with some potential youth leaders and their mothers. Cobán’s streets quickly gave way as we bounced along a lush-green gravel road. The meeting was held inside the home of a WINGS health promoter, Doña Olga Chocoj, in a large room where she can meet privately with women and men from the community seeking out family planning methods. Four young women between the ages of 16 and 20 had been recruited by Doña Olga to participate in WINGS’ youth network. They were accompanied by two of their mothers who were there to learn more and give permission for them to participate in the network’s first training the following week. Fidelia spoke to the mothers and young women in their native Q’eqchi’, though the young women also spoke Spanish. She shared with them about WINGS’ mission, the upcoming training for peer educators, as well as the expectations for these youth leaders in their communities. The young women had been selected because they are all role models in their communities and are interested in working with their peers to increase their access to reproductive health services and reduce teen pregnancy.

Young women in Tanchi, Alta Verapaz selected to participate in WINGS’ youth network.

The young women timidly, but enthusiastically, shared about their interest in joining the network and participating in the upcoming training in Coban. They all had previous experience as peer educators with another local NGO that works to improve maternal health and promote girls’ empowerment.
While the rest of us ate sweet tamales and café prepared by our hostess, Fidelia carried out her standard supervisory visit in Q’eqchi’ with Doña Olga in order to review the monthly clinical records of community members who had sought out family planning services and refill her stock of contraceptive methods.

Fidelia and Doña Olga Chocoj review the patient records and contraceptive methods disseminated during the last month.

At the end of the visit we said goodbye to Doña Olga and the young women and their mothers, wishing them well at the upcoming training. Both Michele and I were deeply impressed by the level of organization and professionalism that Fidelia demonstrated. She seemed equally comfortable speaking with the young women who are only a couple of years younger than her, as with their mothers and Doña Olga. It was clear to us that Fidelia is not only a valuable member of the WINGS team, but also a recognized leader within her community.

Fidelia Chub, CAMY Fund project leader.

On Friday, March 13, Michele and I met with the WINGS team in their Antigua office. We spoke with the organization’s Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Bernarda Jimenez, also a former iLeap Fellow, as well as Shilpa Kothari, the organization’s Development Director. We appreciated learning about the past several years of WINGS’ work, how their organization has grown and developed, and their plans for the future.

The post-script to this entry is that a week later, back in Mexico City, Fidelia asked me to participate by Skype in the inauguration at the youth leaders training. The training was a great success, with 134 young people present from 61 communities in the municipalities of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Carcha, Cobán and Chisec.

Inauguration of youth training.

Congratulations to Fidelia and the WINGS team for their commitment to empowering young people through education, in Alta Verapaz and throughout Guatemala!


CAMY Fund Visit to Red + Posithiva

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

Last week I was in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico to see first-hand the work of the organization Red + Posithiva, one of the CAMY Fund grantee partners. Red + Posithiva’s project, “By bringing health closer, we can make better decisions,” is led by Antonio Ordoñez, who is 30 years old. Antonio is a clinical psychologist with a Masters in family therapy. He worked for various years for the governmental System for Comprehensive Family Development (DIF) in Cozumel, Quintana Roo and the project with Red + Posithiva is his first time working within a civil society organization.

On Tuesday, January 20, Red + Posithiva organized a press conference at the Hotel Oasis Smart to publicly present the project. On the presidium was Roberto Guzmán, Director of Red + Posithiva, Antonio, as the project leader, myself on behalf of the CAMY Fund and Yadira Chávez Courtois who is responsible for family planning within the Number 2 Health Jurisdiction. The media coverage (represented by Noticias Canal 10 and Novedades Quintana Roo) was good and the media that were present were open and curious about the project being presented.

The next day, January 21, Antonio and his co-workers and I left early for the community, Tres Reyes, on the western side of Cancun. The majority of the community is comprised of people from other states who have come to work in the Cancun tourist zone. The housing plots are irregular and quite precarious and public services are limited. Red + Posithiva had selected the local primary school, “Otilio Montaño,” as their contact with the community because of their important social role and capacity to convene inhabitants of the zone. The Directors of the school, Jorge Manuel Caamal Pecho in the morning rotation and Samuel Noé Coba Tun in the afternoon rotation, proved very open to the organization and committed to the project’s activities, which consist in offering cognitive-behavioral workshops to girls between the ages of 10-12 on sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as youth-friendly services to them and their family members (sisters, mothers, etc.) by means of the organization’s mobile health unit.

Red + Posithiva’s mobile unit, ready to head off to the community. 1-21-15.

Once we had arrived and the Mobile Unit was set up the activities began with a small inaugural presentation where Roberto spoke again about the organization, Antonio about the project and I about the support provided by the Fund. The school’s Directors accompanied us and encouraged the participation of the family members present in the day’s activities. The event ended with a brief original rap song with a women’s empowerment message sung by two members of a local group.

Rap song sung at the end of the inaugural event in the community, Tres Reyes, Cancun. 1-21-15

Following, the youth-friendly services and workshops began. The services were provided by a psychologist that had recently finished a diploma course on how to provide them, organized by Red + Posithiva. Also, members of the Red + Posithiva team trained to provide rapid HIV tests offered this service.

Antonio, the project leader, speaks with the psychologist trained by Red + Posithiva on how to offer care to the list of people that had registered for counseling.

The workshops were designed by Antonio and provided by him along with other members of the Red + Posithiva team.

Antonio offers a workshop on violence and discrimination to girls at the primary school in Tres Reyes. 1-21-15

I greatly enjoyed seeing Antonio and Red + Posithiva in action! They were very creative in resolving the complications that inevitably arise in any project and are clearly very committed to providing high-quality information and services to the community. They have built alliances with the health and education sectors that could contribute to the sustainability of the project and a lasting change.

Congratulations to Antonio and Red + Posithiva!

Opinion: Women are the future

Written by Mauricio Vivero, Executive Director of the Seattle International Foundation. Translated by Lara Sepulveda-Machado. Originally published in Spanish in Contrapoder.

For Guatemala, economic development depends on the partnerships between the private sector and women. An inclusive business environment that strengthens the economic inclusion of women creates progress to eradicate gender-based violence and simultaneously generates economic stimulus.

The rates are alarming. Guatemala is one of the most dangerous places in the world for women. In 2013 alone, the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) reported that more than 700 women were killed. This led the World Health Organization to condemn the country for gender-based violence, calling it an epidemic.

Guatemala has one of the worst rates of violence against women, after South Africa and India. Furthermore, it is characterized for having one of the highest inequality rates in the region. Guatemala is ranked 133 out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index, holding the penultimate place in Latin America, before Haiti.

What does violence against women and inequality mean for the largest economy in Central America?

According to the “Doing Business” ranking, Guatemala was amongst the ten countries last year that is making the most progress to improve its business climate. However, this does not mean the country has improved its development policies focused on women.

This topic was the focus of conversations at the recent World Economic Forum held in Panama. As Director of Latin America at WEF, Marisol Argueta de Barrillas stated, the governments of the region “face significant challenges to maintain these achievements and move toward sustainable growth and social cohesion.”

It is well documented that women are the most important resource for growing economies. Societies that focus on the creation of public policies that promote gender equality are more prosperous and less violent.

Governments in Latin America see public-private partnerships as means to increase access to transportation, housing and new sewage systems for marginalized communities. Why not create a public-private partnership framework that promote women’s social inclusion and strengthens their participation in the formal economy of Guatemala?

Read the rest of this entry »

Women are agents of change in Guatemalan society


By Michele Frix, director of programs of the Seattle International Foundation

Originally published in Spanish in LOOK Magazine Guatemala, May edition.

I asked you, my dear readers, to share the meaning of International Women’s Day and to participate in a contest through Look Magazine for the prize of $1,000 for an organization in Guatemala that works to empower and support women and girls. Based on the letters received, the participants nominated the best organizations, and one was selected.

We have a winner from our March contest! It was inspiring to see the way in which you, the readers, represent the power and influence of women in Guatemalan society, and due to this, the decision was difficult. However, several readers and one organization were outstanding.

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Central American countries rank highest in world’s homicide rate

A new report released by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime brings light to the rampant violence and inequality in Central American countries. The global average homicide rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, but Central America has rates over four times that, making it one of the sub-regions with the highest homicide rates on record. Of the top five countries with the highest murder rates, four of them are in Central America; Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize and Honduras.

UNODC defines homicide as “an unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person”, not directly related to an armed conflict.

Central America’s rise in homicide levels is mainly caused by the resulting violence related to drug trafficking, organized crime, and the relationship between organized criminal groups and the state. Honduras’ homicide rates ranks highest in the world with a 90.4 per 100,000 population, followed by Belize with a murder rate of 44.7 per 100,000, El Salvador with 41.2 per 100,000, and Guatemala with 39.9 murders per 100,000.

Women are more at risk than men. Intimate partner and family-related homicides disproportionately affect women. As of 2012, 6,900 women are killed by intimate partners and family members in the Americas. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the true meaning of International Women’s Day?


By Michele Frix, director of programs of the Seattle International Foundation

Originally published in Spanish in LOOK Magazine Guatemala, March edition.


When I first learned that my next piece for LOOK would come out in March, I knew right away I would write about International Women’s Day. As a woman committed to women’s leadership, equality, and empowerment, the choice was simple.

To some, International Women’s Day is a date to celebrate being a woman. For others, it is similar to Mother’s Day, a time to recognize important women who have touched their lives. For me, this day is a chance to look back on past struggles and accomplishments of the international women’s movement and to consider the untapped potential and opportunities for future generations of women.

I have to admit, the idea of honoring this important date was at first daunting:  Where do I begin? Do people even care about this day? Do they even know it exists? This wonderful day celebrates half of the world’s population, yet many women have never even heard of it.

So who is the first person I go to with tough questions when I’m feeling stuck? My mother, of course.

“Hey Mom,” I asked as she sat in the living room folding laundry, “What does International Women’s Day mean to you? Don’t Google it, just tell me the first thing that comes to mind.”

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LOOK Magazine and SIF launch contest to support women in Guatemala in celebration of International Women’s Day


LOOK Magazine and the Seattle International Foundation are pleased to announce the launch of a contest to provide financial support to a women’s-led non-governmental organization (NGO) in Guatemala to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8.

In LOOK Magazine’s March edition, SIF Director of Programs Michele Frix, calls on LOOK readers to submit a letter describing what International Women’s Day means to them, and to nominate a Guatemalan organization who is actively working to advance the rights of women and girls in the country.

One reader will be selected to appear in the May issue, featuring their profile and contest entry describing what this day means to them. In addition, the organizations they nominate will receive a prize of US$1,000.

“The March column is focused on International Women’s Day, with the hope that Central American women readers will share what this day means to them. If we are going to work to improve the lives of women around the world, women in every country must be involved in setting the priorities,” explained Frix.

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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Central American Women’s Leadership (CAWL) Program


If you meet each of these requirements or know someone who does, please feel encouraged to complete an application for this unique opportunity!

  • Are you a leader living and working in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica or Panamá?
  • Do you have more than five years of experience working in leadership in NGOs or grassroots organizations?
  • Are you committed to building positive social change in your community?
  • Are you between 25 and 42 years old?
  • Do you carry out conversations at an intermediate level of English?
  • Are you available in September 2014 to travel to Seattle, USA to participate in an intensive training for eight weeks?


The Central America Women’s Leadership (CAWL) program  is a partnership between iLEAP and the Seattle International Foundation. iLEAP is now accepting applications to participate in this intensive training in leadership and social innovation for Central American leaders. These Central American women leaders will be a part of the international group of 15 iLEAP fellows from Asia, Africa and Latin America. This is a global, unique and intercultural experience, based in Seattle.

This program is comprehensive. By providing a balance between personal and collective reflection, learning through dialogue and communication training and effective leadership training is guaranteed. Our fellows will return to their home renewed and with new tools to lead their communities. The fellows have a clear commitment to themselves, what they do and global change. The training will be held in Seattle, Washington from September 29 to November 21, 2014. All expenses will be covered by the fellowship.

The application deadline is April 13, 2014. To apply, visit the online application:

For more information, please visit:

If you have any questions about the iLEAP CAWL program, please contact iLEAP at:

**This scholarship is contingent upon funding approval**

SIF launches new fund to support adolescent health and education in Central America


SEATTLE — Seattle International Foundation announced today the launch of the Central America Youth Fund (CAYF), a new fund providing grant support to projects led by local young adult leaders (aged 18-35) in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico.

CAYF will address many challenges faced by young people in Central America – particularly young women – such as high adolescent fertility rates, low secondary school completion, child marriage/early unions for girls, discriminatory gender attitudes and behaviors, and inadequate provision of reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

CAYF will support young adult leaders in Central America to implement innovative projects within their organizations that are designed to demonstrate measurable impacts on girls’ equality and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The fund seeks to invest more than $1 million over five years.

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About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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