Tz’unun: Ending Environmental Violence Against Indigenous Women in Guatemala through Empowerment in Community Forestry, Agroecology, and Collective Healing Spaces

Grantee: Utz Che’​
Country: Guatemala


In Guatemala, Community Forestry Association of Guatemala Utz Che’ (Utz Che’) partnered with Trees, Water & People (TWP) and Q’anil to implement Tz’unun: Ending Environmental Violence Against Indigenous Women in Guatemala through Empowerment in Community Forestry, Agroecology, and Collective Healing Spaces. This project addressed gender-based violence (GBV) in community forestry in southern and eastern Guatemala.

Summary of impact


 Project beneficiaries


People trained on GBV prevention


Of participants more aware of GBV

Situational background

In Guatemala, women experience a heteronormative, sexist, and patriarchal system that not only prioritizes the exploitation of bodies and territories, but also leads to economic and physical GBV. Women are often relegated to unpaid domestic activities like caring for the children and the home, and have little time or space to achieve economic empowerment or healing. Additionally, women working in community forestry or agroecology, particularly Indigenous women, face gendered dynamics of resource access that are worsened by climate change and socioeconomic challenges.

Project Approach

The project aimed to address GBV through Utz Che’s ongoing activities with nine indigenous communities in eastern and southern Guatemala to reclaim ancestral knowledge, support conservation through agroforestry, and promote community-based economies. 

With RISE funding, the project partners also established Collective Healing Spaces for women to identify different forms of violence, share their experiences with GBV, collectively build solutions, and empower women as decision-makers in community forestry and agriculture. Collective Healing Spaces were formed within each of the nine Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), and one or two representatives per community led the sessions.

The project improved women’s participation in the Agricultura Familiar Sostenible (AFS) program, which helps smallholder farmers, particularly farming women, to reclaim their traditional ecological knowledge and ensure their communities and lifestyles will endure a changing climate and socioeconomic hardships. Utz Che’ and Trees, Water & People also established Collective Productive Ventures by providing seed funding and training to nine women’s community-based organizations. The Collective Productive Ventures strengthen women’s economic empowerment and build knowledge around sustainable environmental entrepreneurship, including how to start income-generating enterprises.

Notable Results

Over the 18 months of the project, Utz Che’ and its partners brought 124 families from eastern Guatemala and 45 families from southern Guatemala into the AFS program to exchange knowledge related to agroforestry and ancestral agricultural practices. As a result of the program, 82 percent of women reported that they had increased the quantity and quality of their products in gardens and plots, which is the first step to diversifying crops for family consumption. For women participants, this was not only a transformative material process, but also a social, personal, and political one.

The nine CBOs are participating in the project’s Collective Productive Ventures, with 296 women having already benefited from increased access to productive economic resources in the form of seed funding. Trees, Water & People has also secured flexible funding for the next six months in order to follow along with the progress of the Collective Productive Ventures and provide staffing to Utz Che’ as they accompany the efforts.

Through this project, the team reached 160 women with Collective Healing Spaces by providing training workshops to 16 women who went on to replicate the safe spaces for others. These safe spaces contributed to women’s increased participation in local environmental management and provided them with the skills to overcome social, economic, psychological, and physical GBV at the household and community levels. After participating in the Collective Healing Spaces, 73 percent of women showed an improved understanding of GBV and knowledge of support services to prevent and address GBV.