October 15, 2015

Much has been said about the healing power of honey – so much so that someone has even written a book about it – but beekeeping ending domestic violence. Really?

That’s exactly what happened in San Carlos Alzatate, a small community in rural Guatemala, where a beekeeping project not only reduced domestic violence, but also provided a great source of nutrition for the people of this poor rural community.

All sounds a bit far-fetched? Let me tell you how it worked.

The people of San Carlos Alzatate – a poor rural area in the south-east of Guatemala – get no support from their government. For some people that might sound like a good thing, but think about it – schools, health care, emergency services, all state-provided services that we often take for granted.

But in San Carlos Alzatate, the problem was even greater. The villagers had very little access to basic services. And to make matters worse, women were expected to stay at home and look after their kids. This meant they were excluded from all decisions affecting the community, and prevented from earning their own money.

As Petronila Santiago, a local honey producer told us,

“Before, women weren’t allowed to attend community meetings because their husbands were too macho… We were very afraid.”

This all started to change when the women from this community broke with social convention and set up a local women’s group. They wanted a place where they could come together and share their problems, and work out how they could make life better for themselves and their families.

With support from ActionAid and our local partners, the women started to learn new skills, and decided to set up a beekeeping project that would produce honey to feed their families, and which they could also sell for vital income.

They did not imagine the changes that this would bring to their community! Not only did the nutritious honey give them a new source of food, but it helped break down barriers between the men and women.

Some of the families are now considering setting up more beehives, having seen how successful the honey cultivation can be. But the biggest change is the shift in the macho culture, with women now having a more equal role in decision-making.

ActionAid worked with the families and provided training so that both the women and men from the community were aware of their rights. And as Francisco, Petronila’s husband says, now things have really changed, and now the two of them, their sons and the rest of their family are living a better life together.

Do you want to help bring about long-lasting change for communities like Petronila’s? Please make a gift to ActionAid today.

When the brave women of San Carlos Alzatate in Guatemala defied social convention and created a local women’s group, they did not know they would be changing their community forever.

The community lives in a village with no government support, and very limited access to basic necessities. Women were expected to stay at home and look after their kids, meaning they were excluded from decisions affecting the community, and prevented from earning their own money. With support from ActionAid and our local partners, the women set up a group where they could come together and learn new skills. And they decided to run a beekeeping project to produce honey to feed their families and to sell for vital income.

>> Please make a year-end gift to support these amazing women as they work to feed their families and community.

Women’s groups are now leading income generation projects across Guatemala. Your contribution helps deliver long lasting change in communities, countries, and beyond. Please make a gift now.


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