Girls Evaluating Girl Programs through Participatory Video

Girls Evaluating Girl Programs through Participatory Video

Western Highlands and Alta Verapaz, GuatemalaGuatemala City, Guatemala
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Through the Abriendo Opotunidades program Mayan girls’ occupy public spaces for women and close the social, health and economic resource gap that exists for rural Guatemalan women.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Mayan girls are Guatemala’s most vulnerable population in comparison to both boys and their ladino-mestizo counterparts. They have limited access to opportunities and education, are pressured to marry young and begin their reproductive lives early- often still as children. Mayan girls represent a large subgroup nationally, with a population of 624,000 indigenous females between the ages of 10-19. 80.8% of indigenous children and adolescents in Guatemala live in poverty, and 32% live in extreme poverty, compared to 44.3% and 10.4% of ladino youth respectively (UNICEF, 2008). This economic disparity is part of a cycle of marginalization that leads to disproportionately poor health and economic outcomes for rural Mayan girls and women.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Abriendo Oportunidades (AO) seeks to build Mayan girls’ social, health and economic resources by increasing their social support networks, connecting them with role models and mentors, building a base of critical life and leadership skills, and providing sexual-reproductive health training. Through this particular initiative, AO will systematize the use of participatory video into our monitoring and evaluation strategy so that girls can tell us what the program is doing for them. Girls’ use of this new technology increases their own sense of self-worth and their status in their families and communities. It is also a pathway for girls to connect to other technologies and to bridge the digital divide with access to technology they would otherwise not have.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The AO model engages young girls and adolescents ages 8-17 through clubs led by young female leaders in their own communities. The club leader comes to monthly trainings where she learns about different topics (self-esteem, leadership, reproductive health, etc.) and then replicates these lessons with younger girls in her community during weekly club meetings. The clubs create safe spaces in rural communities for young girls to share, learn and support each other to stay in school, defend their rights and make their own decisions. A key step to empowering rural girls is to make them visible (literally!). A group of AO leaders have been trained in how to film and edit video, as well as how to use the “most significant change” methodology to evaluate the success of AO in their community from their own perspectives. In the process of learning to use this technology, girls discover their voices, tell their own stories, work as a team and address traditionally taboo issues such as gender violence and teen pregnancy. We want to replicate such participatory video skill building with more girls!

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Various NGOs work with young women in Guatemala, but few are investing in rural indigenous girls and providing them with opportunities to learn and build critical skills – to keep them on a healthy path through adolescence. The presence of other NGOs in AO communities has sometimes posed challenges in the past when other programs give out material goods (backpacks, fertilizers, etc.), but through ongoing engagement with community leaders we have learned it is possible to complement and work alongside other programs in the same community.

Founding Story

Participatory video girl leaders recently went to a community in Quetzaltenango where Abriendo Oportunidades was finishing up a series of workshops to mobilize community members to take action and make the town safer for girls and women. As part of this process, the community wanted to make a video. The day that we came to do the video, the women did not want to act or appear on camera. Instead, the participatory girl leaders worked with the women and girls to narrate and explain the various forms of violence that exist in the community through animation. Not only were they able to find a solution to the problem, but they were able to engage the community in a way that worked for them. The video was narrated in Mam and paired with animated cut outs by the girls. Seeing how video can be used to give a voice to women who are too scared to even appear on film was moving and proved that what we are doing is so important for indigenous women and girls.
About You
Population Council Guatemala
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Population Council Guatemala

Organization Country

, Guatemala City

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Western Highlands and Alta Verapaz

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

Abriendo Oportunidades was recently selected as one of Women Deliver's top inspiring solutions for women and girls.

In 2011, Abriendo Oportunidades received an award of recognition from UNFPA for its work with rural indigenous young women.

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Equity.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to education/training.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The program reaches more than 1,500 indigenous girls ages 8-17 in 45 rural indigenous communities each year. A total of nine girl leaders have been trained in participatory video and they have conducted activities in approximately 10 communities.

Using PV has allowed the girls themselves to identify and measure indicators of program impact in their own words. Through participatory video activities, Abriendo Oportunidades participants and lideresas have served as a monitoring and evaluation tool for the program. Girls are telling other girls what the most significant change in their lives has been since participating in the program and we are listening! Thank to PV activities we know that a key process that most AO participants go through is losing fear- fear to speak their mind and fear to negotiate with adults.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Over the next 3 years, we hope to engage more AO communities in participatory video activities by systematically integrating the tool into our monitoring and evaluation strategy. This provides the opportunity for girls to lead and to use technology creatively to work with rural communities as a whole and make visible the problems faced by young women and girls.

Participatory video serves as a safer way to engage communities around issues such as adolescent pregnancies, giving the community the opportunity to express how they feel about these problems and mobilize around them. The use of video makes the activity safe and fun, and through dramatizations, girls are not talking about personal experiences but issues at the community level.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Some communities might be more reserved or less interested in participatory video activities. In these instances, we will engage each group within the community separately (girls, mothers, leaders, etc.) to see how they each feel about doing the video. By negotiating with a community to hear what they want, we will be better able to make a video that is interactive for those interested and represents the distinct issued faced in each community.

Privacy and confidentiality are always issues when working with participatory video, especially with minors. Consent forms and permission from parents/guardians and girls will always be collected so that any problems may be avoided.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Engage girls' clubs and communities in the second year with the program in participatory video activities

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Identify AO communities in 2nd year of cycle to expand participatory video activities

Task 2

Work with participatory video girl leaders to discuss possible themes for videos and other activities to incorporate (animation,

Task 3

Visit selected communities to begin talking to girls and leaders about which community issues they would like to address

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Train more girl leaders in participatory video and show completed videos to the community

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Visit and conduct participatory video activities in selected communities

Task 2

Work with trained PV girl leaders and new PV girl assistants to edit, subtitle and produce videos

Task 3

Arrange showings in each community

Tell us about your partnerships

By partnering with local authorities, each AO club strives to not only increase opportunities for growth and learning for girls, but for community leaders as well. In the future, we hope girls and community leaders exposed to AO activities will continue to sustain and support a safe environment for young women and girls long after direct AO activities have closed in the community.
Participatory video girl leaders were trained through a partnership with InsightShare, an organization that promotes the use of participatory video for growth and change among individuals and groups.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

An ongoing corporate partnership would be ideal to help sustain individual clubs and/or participatory video activities. For example, an organization to partner with GPS use during community mapping projects or cameras and computers used for videos.