Episode 03: A chat about gender in Guatemala

Episode 03: A chat about gender in Guatemala
Original Language: 

This episode is directed by Sheila, who interviewed Fredy Eduardo Cuxil. Fredy is the author of a digital story about gender in Guatemala and how big changes start with small actions (SDG5):

Big changes start with small actions

In this interview, we pose further questions to learn more about the context and deepen our understanding about his story.


Podcast Duration: 
Sheila and Fredy Eduardo Cuxil
Friday, March 4, 2022
Podcast Category: 



Sheila (S): Hello, everyone. Today we have Fredy from Guatemala with us, who will answer some questions about gender equality.

First of all, thank you very much Fredy for being here with us today. You explain in your video how your mindset and your habits have changed once you had learned about the importance of gender equality. Just how difficult is it to change mindsets, gender stereotypes, and certain gender-biased habits, and why?

Fredy (F): It's very difficult because most habits and beliefs come from when we are children and from several generations before us. Although many organizations and projects have worked on the issue of equality between men and women, the message has only reached a few people who have been able to put it into practice.

S: Right. And what do you consider to be the reason that it reaches so few people?

F: I believe the reason that so few people put the messages into practice is the fear that by giving women space or freedom, men lose power over women – that is to say, it has to do with men's insecurities.

S: Interesting. Now I would like to ask, in your opinion, how is the concept of masculinity interpreted in your community?

F: The idea of masculinity is still associated with a strong man who controls everyone and everything en his house; a man whose every word is obeyed.

S: Aha, I see. And could you provide us with some concrete examples?

F: For example, how money is handled. It is still the case in many families that if a woman wants to spend money or invest in something, she must ask permission from her husband, who will decide whether to give the money or to allow purchases or investments, without taking into account the contributions that the other family members make in order to earn this money in the first place.

S: Perfect, thank you very much. If we consider that gender equality can be achieved if men take action, raise awareness in our society, and fight for change, did your change in mindset and behavior set a good example for other men in your community to change?

F: Well, for some, yes. Especially those that already know a little about gender equality or have attended a talk on the subject, because they see how small things can help to initiate change. But for many others, those that aren't as familiar with the topic, see it as something strange or even amusing.

S: I see. And, in your opinion, what small actions can men take in order to promote gender equality in their community?

F: I think that a small but important thing is to distribute work so that all family members have more or less equal tasks. Because even now you see that women are much of the time overburdened with work in the house, on the land, and beyond. Meanwhile, many of the men only work during the day on the land and when they return home they don't help out with anything. They think that this is work for the wife or for the daughters, when in reality everyone could and should help out. That is to say, they don't grasp that their wife is working and running all over the place while they are only resting.

S: And regarding state actors, I would like to know, what do you think the government should do in order to promote gender equality in your country?

F: I think that this is a topic that should be reinforced at school, from primary through the end of secondary. The municipality can also do a lot by supporting campaigns that spread the message of gender equality.

S: Okay. In your video you mention that children can learn to be respectful and understand the importance of gender equality from a very early age. In your opinion, how important is it to teach children to be respectful to one another, regardless of gender?

F: Children learn a lot from the example of their parents: they repeat what they observe. Because of this, it is very important not only to tell them to respect one another and other people, but also to have them see that we parents help each other, communicate with one another, and treat each other with respect.

S: And is there any sign of a new generation of children who are more respectful of each other and more egalitarian in terms of gender compared with 20 or 30 years ago?

F: Although there has been a lot of progress, a lot depends on the awareness and attitudes of the parents now in order to ensure that their children don't repeat unfair attitudes against women. As mentioned before, the work of schools and regular – or even permanent – campaigns by organizations also contribute toward the achievement of these social changes.

S: Very good, Fredy. Thank you very much for providing us with all this information and your opinions regarding gender equality. Let's hope that it helps to raise awareness and instill critical thinking in other people in other countries. Thank you.


Translated by Andru Shively

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