HerstoryofChange - Karen's Story

The gender just climate solution winner FUNDAECO, partly led by Karen Dubois, benefits from a unique development model. It is grounded on forest conservation by indigenous peoples, while ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls in 100 Maya and Q'eqchi communities in Guatemala.

In 2019, Karen was one of the winners of the Gender Just Climate Solution Awards. This is a yearly event at the UNFCCC Climate Summit, organized by WECF International and the Women & Gender Constituency.

Karen’s goal is to make sure that indigenous women in Guatemala enjoy equal sexual and reproductive health and rights; and that they are empowered to protect biodiversity and the climate. Indigenous people have little access to reproductive health in the forests of Guatemala. There are no state sexual and reproductive health services for people in the protected areas. Young women have to deal with unwanted pregnancies and gender-based violence.

Climate action rooted in women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

Karen has helped to set up 38 health clinics in the forests from Guatemala. These clinics provide health services for 5000 indigenous women and men. Women also find a space there to learn about family planning and women’s rights. They exchange knowledge on agroforestry and climate resilient food production. Women gain a strong role in biodiversity conservation. Karen and FUNDAECO created a scholarship program for adolescent girls, where they attend school, learn about women’s rights and become community leaders.

Sexual health care services, women’s rights and education are crucial to empower women. In this way they can act in the conservation of the climate and forests, feeling that their Mayan culture is respected. The girls attend school, learn about women’s rights and become community leaders. The Ministry of Health recognized 90 midwives as community health providers.

“Community empowerment for climate action begins with the recognition of women's sexual rights and their access to health." – Karen Dubois
Why arw Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights so important?

FUNDAECO has rolled out a unique development model based on implementing indigenous-owned forest conservation and ensuring the SRHR of adolescent girls in 100 Mayan and Q'eqchi communities of Guatemala. While officially recognizing midwives as essential contributors to the well-being of the communities, health clinics were established, providing maternal and health care to 50,000 people and supporting victims of gender-based violence. These clinics provide spaces for indigenous women, who are the main users of forest resources, to strengthen their knowledge and skills on agroforestry and production systems while accessing information on family planning and women's rights.

Results of FUNDAECO
  • 50,000 women and men are direct beneficiaries.
  • 90 midwives officially recognized by the Ministry of Health as community service providers.
  • 5 productive groups support 300 women in generating new income.
  • 300 women leaders participate in decision-making processes.
  • 25 community health clinics (and 3 mobile clinics ) provide regular care and counselling over to 4,000 people per year.
  • 500 indigenous families adopted innovative agroforestry systems.
"My goal is to make sure that indigenous women in Guatemala enjoy equal sexual and reproductive health and rights; and that they are empowered to protect biodiversity and the climate.” - Karen Dubois

What's so special about Karen's project?

Ensuring women’s SRHR has fostered their participation in sustainable management of natural resources in protected forest areas. The care economy model promotes biodiversity conservation and women's empowerment in ecotourism services and agroforestry systems. Thanks to a scholarship and youth leadership program, indigenous adolescent girls could attend school and learn about women's rights and 64 young women reached secondary grade and university studies and became community leaders.

Our Solutions

Women bear an outsize burden of the global warming crisis, largely because of gender inequalities. They are often the ones who work in the fields or at home and are the first victims of drought, flood or climate-related disasters. At the same time, women and their organizations can play a fundamental role as producers of food and as consumers of energy and water and hold the key to change in the fight against climate change.

That is why we want to provide space for the stories of inspiring champions in the field of gender equality and the fight against climate change and environmental pollution.

With this in mind, we organize, together with the Women and Gender constituency, an annual Award ceremony during the global climate negotiations, the Gender Just Climate Solutions Awards, where we identify the most outstanding grassroots climate actions that have women leadership and promote gender-equality. We know the solutions to a more sustainable future already exist – and it is time to showcase them and demand change!

Impact of the Award for Karen and FUNDAECO

The mentoring program offered to Award winners strengthened their capacities on women’s entrepreneurship and social-economic empowerment. The 2019’s Karen, honour winner, states: “Not only 38 clinics have been set up as part of the project, but midwives are also recognized as key players in the well-being of the communities and 50.000 people receive maternal and health care. Support is also provided to victims and survivors of sexual violence”. Moreover, these clinics provide spaces for indigenous women to strengthen their knowledge of agroforestry and production systems. Also, the clinics are places where information on family planning and women's rights are widely disseminated.

Read more about our campaign through #Herstoryofchange.

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WECF is a nonprofit network dedicated to a gender just and healthy planet for all. Our international network consists of over 150 women’s and civil society organizations implementing projects in 50 countries. We believe that a sustainable future and environment needs holistic solutions reflecting the lives of people on the ground. We believe in feminist solutions based on our partners’ visions and needs. That is why we work on transformative gender equality and women’s human rights in interconnection with climate justice, sustainable energy, less toxic waste & safe water & sanitation for all.

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