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Published on: 27/02/2012

Don Felipe from Belén in Guatemala says: “In 1975, UNEPAR started the construction of our water system. Steps were only taken because of pressure from the women. They protested about the lack of water.” Women in Belén started to participate in the water committee. They were the driving forces behind the committee.

Don Juan also from the community of Belén says: “These women are really determined, these women “pusieron pilas”, are the batteries that power the water committee. Although it is difficult for us to accept, thanks to them we have water.”And another resident from Belén says: “the women are more intelligent in obtaining and spending resources. They know when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’”. Not everybody in Belén had the same opinion. The former secretary of the water committee said: “Those women now in the committee are very nosy, they want to know everything.”

Other residents who were invited to come to the meetings commented: “Maybe these women don’t have anything to occupy their time.” The participation of the women in Belén is appreciated, but it also remains new and strange. One of the men on the committee said: “It was me who had to go to the houses to collect the contributions to pay for the debt on the repair that was done. It seemed that the men were embarrassed that a woman was collecting from them, so I had to go to collect the money.”

Jaime Pacajoj Cifuentes

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