Young people make up the largest segment of Guatemala’s population, and their access to education and health services is often severely limited. The country has one of the highest child marriage rates in Latin America, with the practice mainly occurring among poorer, indigenous, rural communities. The rate of adolescent pregnancies is also high: one out of five Guatemalan mothers is age 10-19.
Improving the health and lives of Guatemala’s youth is a growing priority. In 2015, the Guatemalan government increased the minimum age of marriage to 18 years; previously, it was 14 for girls and 16 for boys. Now the challenge will be ensuring the law is upheld. GOJoven Guatemala aims to keep adolescent health a priority among policymakers, ensuring they improve sexual and reproductive health services, expand comprehensive sexuality education, and intensify efforts to prevent adolescent pregnancy and sexual violence.
GOJoven is a pioneer in mobilizing youth and fostering their leadership. Since 2004, the group has been building the capacity of young leaders to create positive change in adolescent sexual and reproductive health. In addition to Guatemala, the organization has chapters in Belize, Honduras, and Mexico.
GOJoven Guatemala fights for the sexual and reproductive rights of marginalized adolescents and youth through training, research, communication, and political advocacy.
To build the capacity of youth to advocate for their sexual and reproductive health and rights, GOJoven Guatemala conducts trainings across the country and provides ongoing coaching and support. So far, they have reached more than 9,000 youth and adolescents, providing trainings and information to reduce adolescent pregnancy, HIV transmission, and sexually transmitted infections. They have also developed youth-friendly, multilingual radio programs on sexual and reproductive health topics, which have reached thousands.
They have trained hundreds of teachers to offer comprehensive sexuality education in primary and secondary schools.
Additionally, GOJoven played a significant role in the change of the minimum age of marriage law and co-organized the First National Youth Conference to address adolescent pregnancy, HIV, and sexual violence.