PCI, a Global Communities Partner, and Promundo-US launch pilot program to transform harmful gender norms

Working with women alone is not enough to bring about their economic advancement. Recognizing this, PCI, a Global Communities Partner, is partnering with Promundo-US to involve men as allies in a new women’s economic development project in Cuilco, Guatemala.

Journeys of Transformation-Guatemala targets the spouses or partners of women participating in community-based savings groups supported by PCI’s Women Empowered (WE) initiative. Men are invited to attend a series of facilitated group discussions that aim to challenge harmful gender attitudes and behaviors and provide opportunities to redefine what it means to be a supportive partner. Some sessions will be conducted with couples to promote non-violent, open communication and shared decision-making.

“Harmful gender norms and attitudes held by men create barriers restricting women’s access to financial services and limiting their opportunities for economic advancement,” said Dennis Mello, Director of WE Programs. “PCI is proud to partner with Promundo in this effort to engage savings group members and their husbands and partners in support of women’s economic activities.”

The Journeys of Transformation (JoT) gender-transformative approach was developed by Promundo in collaboration with CARE International and implemented originally in Rwanda. In 2020, PCI worked with Promundo to adapt JoT to the context of Guatemala and the WE initiative. The adapted curriculum consists of 13 group education sessions—some delivered to couples, others delivered to men and women separately—led by trained community facilitators over the course of 8 months (March – October 2021). Topics and activities include examining and practicing new skills around couples’ communication, household decision-making, budgeting, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and violence prevention and response.

“We’ve seen that when men become engaged as caring and equitable partners in the lives of their family, couple relationships improve, and children have a higher chance to develop healthily in a warm home environment that is free of violence,” said Clara Alemann, Director of Programs at Promundo-US. “We hope this program can encourage men to recognize the valuable work women do for their families, support their active participation in economic activities and as leaders of their communities, and that they can take joint responsibility with their partners for unpaid care work and paid work outside the home that will enhance the whole family’s health and well-being.”

Under the JoT intervention, PCI will target a total of 12 WE groups and their partners, reaching approximately 140 couples. The program builds on nearly a decade of PCI’s women and social economic empowerment work in Guatemala. Since 2012, PCI has formed more than 986 WE groups, reaching more than 15,700 Guatemalan women. Together, these groups have saved more than $1.2 million and made nearly $500,000 available as credit which their members have invested, contributing to the health, education, and productivity of Guatemalan families. PCI has also partnered with local organizations and entities including local governments to transfer the WE methodology and further expand women’s empowerment work.

“We [have] never been in a program like this one that cares about us and is helping us to be better men,” said Eulogio, a new JoT participant in Cuilco, Guatemala. “As a group, we are supporting each other, so we can all become better partners, less machistas.”

For more information about PCI’s efforts to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world, visit www.PCIGlobal.org/womens-empowerment.