Home / Impact / Countries / 2014 / October / 15 / Guatemala Guatemala Share Page Adolescent Girls in Guatemala In a place where poverty and inequality are prevalent, indigenous females are by far the most disadvantaged and vulnerable group. The rights of adolescent girls are not protected and thus many girls and women do not attend school and are forced into child labor. More than 2 million children in Guatemala do not attend school, most of whom are in rural areas. The prevalence of child labor is higher in Guatemala than anywhere else in Latin America. Girls can be forced to spend many hours working, leaving little time for school or to just be a girl. What is Girl Up doing in Guatemala? Girl Up supports adolescent girls in Guatemala by funding a United Nations joint program that delivers an integrated and comprehensive package of services in partnership with national partners and local implementing organizations. These programs address the complex challenges that limit indigenous girls’ opportunities for success. Through the UN joint program, Girl Up empowers girls by: Approaching our work with four strategic goals Providing an increase in social investments for adolescent girls Increasing the legal age of marriage to 18 years Reducing teenage pregnancy, sexual violence and trafficking Supporting civil efforts that demand comprehensive sex education Strengthening government support and capacity The Girl Up-funded joint UN program works with national government of Guatemala- the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and National Institute of Statistics- to support adolescent girls from around the country, with specific focus on indigenous girls in rural areas. Building partnerships Through partnerships with local organizations, the program has implemented activities that have strengthened the social skills of hundreds of adolescent girls from rural communities. Additionally, boys, family members and care givers, community leaders and health technicians have also participated in training processes to become allies in the prevention of violence and teenage pregnancy. About Guatemala Guatemala is located in Central America between Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. The ancient Mayan civilization flourished in and around today’s Guatemala, creating a powerful empire. Today, the population is of mixed heritage with nearly 40% of inhabitants claiming indigenous Mayan heritage, and just fewer than 60% classified as “ladino” (mixed native and European blood). In addition, the government recognizes 23 indigenous languages.