As the most populous country in Central America, Guatemala boasts a diverse population that includes more than 23 different ethnicities, languages, and cultures. Approximately 41% of the population is of Indigenous descent.
Guatemala also has some of the largest inequities in the region:
- About half of the population lives in poverty, and many of those living in rural communities lack access to basic health care and education.
- Almost half of the population is under the age of 18, and the country has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in Latin America.
- This is coupled with an epidemic of forced pregnancies among girls ages 10-14. More than 3,000 pregnancies in that age group were registered in Guatemala in the first part of 2021. According to Guatemalan law, these pregnancies are considered rape.
Guatemala has some progressive laws in relation to sexual and reproductive health, such as a framework to promote universal access to high quality, culturally appropriate family planning information, contraceptive methods, and maternal health services. However, there is a lack of implementation of these policies, and conservative elements within the government actively trying to erase decades of advancement.
Planned Parenthood Global partners with brave local organizations that are firmly anchored in their communities and are leading the charge to expand access to sexual and reproductive health information, services, and contraceptive methods.
Planned Parenthood Global’s partners in Guatemala are also working tirelessly to ensure accountability and implementation of laws and policies that support the continued advancement of access to sexual and reproductive health care. Our Guatemala partners are diverse and innovative, and include:
● Lawyers and activists fighting on behalf of victims of sexual violence and forced pregnancy to ensure that they receive justice and compensation. One example is the case of Fátima, who has bravely brought her story to the United Nations, and contributes to the regional Niñas No Madres campaign.
● Youth-based organizations that are finding unique ways to offer young people information about contraceptive methods and healthy sexuality, and creating spaces for young people to discuss topics considered taboo.
● Academics who have researched and documented the mental health impact of forced pregnancy in young girls in order to educate decision-makers about the health consequences of pregnancy at a young age.
● Media outlets that train journalists from rural communities in order to bring their voices and experiences into the broader public discourse in Guatemala.
● Networks of health care providers that are ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive health services for rural and Indigenous populations.