Camino Verde

Development Project

Camino Verde

Advancing the economic empowerment of Indigenous women and youth in Guatemala

The Situation

Alta Verapaz, in north central Guatemala, has some of the worst poverty and inequality in Latin America – and it is increasing for Indigenous women and youth.

Alta Verapaz is the poorest region of Guatemala, with 83 per cent of the population living in poverty and 54 per cent living in extreme poverty. Most of this region is rural and is home to a predominantly Indigenous society. Youth between 15 and 29 represent just over a quarter of the population; two-thirds of the youth are Indigenous.

Women's participation in the Alta Verapaz economy is minimal: of the 37 per cent of the economically active population, only seven per cent are women. Access to employment is more difficult because 82 per cent of men believe their spouses must ask for permission to participate in activities outside the home, including work. Unemployed women have been shown to suffer much higher rates of violence compared to women who are employed. The rate of domestic violence and femicide in Alta Verapaz is one of the highest in the country.

The government of Guatemala introduced a national policy to support women's economic development, with a special focus on Indigenous women. However, it is not being implemented in Alta Verapaz. Women and youth – particularly those from Indigenous communities – remain disadvantaged due to a lack of training and education.

Economic opportunities for rural Indigenous youth are limited, often leading to migration for work or involvement in criminal activities. Young Indigenous women have fewer opportunities than men and lack access to essential services. Many women feel that their only chance for a future is through marriage.



5 years (2019-2024)

Lire la description du programme en français (PDF).

This project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada, provided through Global Affairs Canada, and the generous Canadian public.

New logo from government of Canada that reads, in partnership with Canada.

Issues at a Glance

In Guatemala, Indigenous women and youth face exclusion and marginalization.

Poverty affects more than half of the country's population; 80% of those living in poverty are Indigenous people.
Nationally, only 58% of Indigenous women are literate, compared to 77% of non-Indigenous women.
The percentage of women in Alta Verapaz with access to farming land. Most people in the region rely on agriculture to make a living.

What are we doing?


Increasing awareness and promoting positive attitudes and behaviours towards economic empowerment and human rights to uplift Indigenous women and youth.


Empowering Indigenous women and youth to launch socially and environmentally responsible small businesses while increasing access to ethical markets.


Working with women's rights organizations and other groups to influence policies and programs that support Indigenous women's economic empowerment and human rights.

What are we doing?

Oxfam is contributing to the creation of a functioning green economy for small-scale enterprises in Alta Verapaz. We're supporting the development of sustainable business practices for small-scale enterprises headed by Indigenous women and youth. By helping these enterprises to grow and prosper, we're increasing social, economic and political engagement across a wide range of sectors on the rights, participation and leadership of Indigenous women and youth. As a core part of the program, we're conducting training for community leaders and community members on women's rights and, specifically, the right of all women to live a life free of violence.

Our project partners

Support the rights and incomes of Indigenous women and youth in Guatemala.

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