Resilient lives, transformative education: Maria’s story

“I am fighting for my life” – María Castro Lux, UNESCO-MALALA-MINEDUC Centers
I kept studying… and just like Malala, who fought for her life and her right to education, we as a woman must keep fighting
María Castro Lux, participant UNESCO-MALALA Centers

For María Castro Lux, a young mother of three children, being part of one of the UNESCO-Malala-Mineduc Centers has meant learning to value her self-esteem, undertake new initiatives and, become a fighter.

Education has positive effects on the lives of women such as María, who despite getting married at an early age and, having to interrupt her studies of elementary school, is currently studying her last year of junior high school. María, a proud mother of two girls and a small boy, is one of the female leaders of the UNESCO-Malala Center located in Santa María Chiquimula.

María believes that starting a family in early adulthood is not an obstacle to continue working towards a better future. “I help my girls with their homework, I am watching my baby grow up because he is already walking and talking, he recognizes the sounds of animals, because I am following up his development,” María says. She also recognizes the support received from her family and of her husband, which she believes is a key element to continue with her studies.

I am supporting the female participants of the project so that they can keep going to fight for their lives, just as I am fighting for mine as well
María Castro Lux, participant UNESCO-MALALA Centers

Maria’s road has not been easy. In addition to taking care of her children and her family, and continuing her junior high school studies, Maria is committed to her community, supporting one of the women's groups as a female leader in one of the UNESCO-Malala-Mineduc Centers. This responsibility has led her to recognize the importance and power of education in transforming people's lives. 

When María talks about fighting for her life, she refers to the sacrifices that she makes towards the wellbeing of her children, her family, the women that she is leading, and of her community. The gaps in education remain a major challenge in rural areas of Guatemala. Therefore, the support and accompaniment of ally institutions, such as the Guatemalan Institute of Radiophonic Education -IGER by its Spanish acronym- which awarded María with a scholarship to continue with her studies, is fundamental to promote indigenous women right to education.

The panorama in Santa María Chiquimula and San Andres Xecul is different from how it was three years ago when the project supported by the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls Right to Education began. The participants of the project, just like María Castro, feared to participate and raise their voices, of getting involved in project activities and obtain new knowledge, of daring to talk about their needs and dreams while creating support networks. Today, women are empowered: they recognize and fight for their right to education.

I would like to invite all the women to fight for their lives, so we do not leave anyone behind
María Castro Lux, participant UNESCO-MALALA Centers

Through the implementation of the new workshops on Science-Based Sustainable Development: Routes towards the future, María believes in the possibility of having ventures, of knowing about seed sowing models, and how she and the women of her community can make the most out of the training programs offered in the Centers. This, because she has also participated in different programs offered by UNESCO-Malala-Mineduc Centers, on health and wellbeing, and economic autonomy programs that provide integral learning to their participants, who at the same time become multipliers of knowledge.

The strengthening of Education for Sustainable Development is of utmost importance for UNESCO. Long-life-learning education opportunities are becoming a reality for many women. For those aiming for a better future and well-being of their families and the development of their communities. More than 900 indigenous girls, and young indigenous women, have participated during the past three years in UNESCO-Malala-Mineduc Centers are becoming seeds of hope in a land full of illusions.