Through the MAIA Impact School, family engagement, systemic change and a COVID-response plan, MAIA's impact has grown and been recognised by many, empowering more than 450 young women in the rural areas of Sololá, Guatemala.
The approach and purpose of MAIA
MAIA focuses its efforts in Guatemala, a country with the worst gender equity gap in the Americas and where nearly 80 percent of the Indigenous population lives below the poverty line. Founded in 2017, it was created with a focus on the younger generation of women born into a combination of four different levels of discrimination: poverty, gender, race and habitat.
With less than 20 percent of indigenous girls who graduate from secondary school, and fewer than one percent from university, these women are faced with challenges in economic autonomy, independent family planning and overall participation in society. This is why the founders of MAIA focused their strategies on the question: What would happen if these young women had the opportunity to go as far as their talent could take them?
"We are committed to supporting the Girl Pioneers in the long term to overcome challenges and achieve their goals, from their first day in our preparatory program until they have reached their full potential."
– Goals at MAIA, maiaimpact.org
Four key goals
There are four pillars that summarise the main goals of MAIA:
Economic autonomy The average annual income in Guatemala is $4,000 USD. Over 70% of the Indigenous population earns much less than this and lives therefore beneath the poverty line. All Girl Pioneers do as well when they join the MAIA program. The first goal is that each MAIA graduate will be employed and have annual earnings that exceed the average annual income.
Her family on her own terms 57% of young Indigenous women are married or have become mothers by the time they are 18. The goal is that MAIA graduates will delay marriage and pregnancy until they are at least 25 years old and in a stable position to support a family.
Her lifelong learning The average Indigenous adult in Guatemala has 3.5 years of schooling and just about 2% of Indigenous young women enrole in university. The goal is that MAIA graduates achieve at least 15 years of schooling.
- Empowered to empower Guatemala has the highest level of gender inequality in Latin America. The goal is to change that by increasing women’s leadership at all levels of society through leadership skills. Girl Pioneers should be empowered and be able to empower others.
Stepping in to fill a void in rural Guatemala that needs to be filled with programs for sustainable development, MAIA has several initiatives that help achieve its goals. In their 2020 report, they describe what challenges the global pandemic has created on top of the problems faced by the current situation in Guatemala.
Initiatives for impact
THE MAIA IMPACT SCHOOL
The Impact School is the first female, indigenous-led secondary school in Central America that offers a holistic education focused equally on academics, culture and identity, socio-emotional development and family engagement.
The Impact School offers approximately three times more hours of rigorous academics than the average public school in Guatemala. The goal is to ensure Girl Pioneers gain on average two academic years of growth every school year. Mentors support Girl Pioneers to navigate life’s challenges, develop, use their voices and actively participate in society. Furthermore, the family of a Girl Pioneer is involved so that they don't have to choose between a prosperous future or her family. Finally, MAIA’s team is 80 percent Indigenous and 85 percent female. This race and gender mirroring ensures critical empathy and cultural relevance at every juncture, key to Girl Pioneers’ success.
The Impact School is located near the city of Sololá and serves roughly 40 remote villages. It will reach its full capacity in 2022, serving roughly 300 Girl Pioneers and families.
Impact scales when services and opportunities improve across Guatemala and the inclusion of more young women in Guatemalan society is secured. MAIA believes in a collaborative approach for systemic change and builds partnerships that center on the four institutional goals and a quality over quantity mindset. Instead of expanding into unfamiliar regions, cultures, and language groups around Guatemala, MAIA partners with organisations already immersed in these communities and connects them with external innovators to create a community of learning.
MAIA is an active member of two global networks – One World Network of Schools and She's the First – and supported the creation of three national networks – The Colectivo, R.I.N.A., and REdI – to catalyse and coordinate efforts to push for greater levels of inclusion and prosperity for all. Since 2016, over 50 organisations and schools have accessed innovations in an array of girl-focused trainings. MAIA partnered with the US Peace Corps in 2019 and with the Guatemala Ministry of Education in 2020 to improve instruction in dozens of public schools.
Through an incredible network of support, MAIA has managed to leverage technology, partnerships, and above all its local team to ensure that Girl Pioneers, their families, and the communities they live in had access to critical information, emergency food relief, and learning opportunities.
As MAIA continues to navigate the challenges that COVID presents, its goal remains the same: keep Girl Pioneers healthy and moving forward on their bold new trajectories.
To support and learn more about MAIA, go to maiaimpact.org and follow them on instagram or facebook.
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