"Just ask your phone, Daddy."  "Mommy, just Google it." "Hey Google....?"  Even ten years ago, such sentences would have seemed nonsensical, but nowadays for most North Americans the easy availability of information through search engines and cell phones is nearly ubiquitous.  95% of Americans own a cell phone, and 80% own a smartphone. Such ready access to empowering information is something that North Americans have come to take for granted.

Photo: Carter Center

Photo: Carter Center

It's not that way everywhere.  In Guatemala, for example - and particularly among the women of Guatemala - the lack of ready access to information has made life harder than it needs to be.  A report from the Carter Center puts it succinctly:  "we know that information related to education, starting a business, and basic rights is the most critical for women's economic empowerment and the promotion and protection of rights....  With genuine access to information women can make more effective decisions with relation to education, land, and agricultural production."

Through the support of Week of Compassion, the Carter Center's "Global Access to Information Program" has worked with Guatemalan partner Acción Ciudadana to increase women's access to information.  Over 2000 women in Guatemala have been exposed to the opportunity to learn how to find information that will enhance their lives and economic security.  Acción Ciudadana has hired a team of local women to help other women obtain the information they need to better their lives and the lives of their families. Provisioned with laptops, the teams visit villages that have limited information access. Three hundred women have received assistance in making information requests regarding their rights or in securing information about resources available to them or their families. Again in the words of the Carter Center, "With genuine access to information, women can take advantage of opportunities to transform their lives, families, and communities."

Two brief stories show the power of information to create hope and transform lives:  In one of the most impoverished and isolated areas of Guatemala, a woman had been promised chickens from one of the government agencies but had never received them.  A Carter Center staff walked many hours and many miles into this village and was able to help the woman remind the agency of her request and their promise. Not long after, well over 100 chickens arrived -- which gave her children better nutrition (malnutrition in this part of the country is a dire problem) and allowed her to have the means to now supplement her family's income through the sale of eggs.  A second woman, 34 years old, who suffered from epilepsy was assisted by Carter Center staff to find out what assistance was available from the government and to make a request for -- and receive! -- help in accessing a specialist to assist her with her medical situation and the drugs she needed.

On this International Women's Day, we are grateful for your support and financial gifts to the Week of Compassion Women Empowerment Fund, which helped make this work possible in places such as Guatemala and all over the world. Information IS power, and power IS hope - for the betterment of women and their families!  Thank you!

Learn more about Week of Compassion's Women Empowerment Fund.

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