Guatemala is ranked 35th out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index. The country was ranked 34th out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.
The 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.574, placing it 131st place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.542. Guatemala's Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6229, placing it 112th place (out of a total of 135 countries).
The legal minimum age for marriage is 14 years for women and 16 years for men, but an exception can be made if the woman has a child or is pregnant. The law prohibits marriage for those below 18 years without parental authorisation. The 1999 Demographic and Health Survey estimated that 26 per cent of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed.
Polygamy is not a common practice in Guatemala.
By law, both parents are obliged to share parental authority, but patriarchal tradition remains strong in Guatemala and women are expected to carry out nearly all-domestic chores. Certain legislation restricts married women’s rights: Article 255 of the Civil Code stipulates “when the husband and wife hold joint parental authority over minors, the husband must represent the minor and administer his or her property”.
There are no reported restrictions on the inheritance rights of Guatemalan women.
 Article 8 of the Civil Code; CEDAW (2002), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Guatemala, Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties, p. 80.  National Institute of Statistics (INE) and Macro International, Inc. (1999), Guatemala Encuesta Nacional de Salud Materno Infantil 1998-1999, Table 2.7.  Decree No. 82-98 amending the Civil Code; CEDAW 2001, pp. 81-82.
On April 9, 2008 the national Congress passed the ‘Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women,’ which establishes penalties for physical, economic, and psychological violence against women because of their gender, including rape, spousal rape and domestic violence.Penalties for the newly defined crime of ‘femicide’ call for 25 to 50 years imprisonment without the possibility of parole; restraining orders and other forms of protection are also available for victims of violence.Prosecutors from the Special Unit for Crimes Against Women noted that reports of rapes had declined 10.8 percent from 2007. Social awareness about the gravity of violence against women is still low, and women, especially indigenous women, may still have difficulties accessing the judicial system. In addition, the police have minimal training and capacity to undertake full investigation of the cases that are referred to them. There is still no specific legislation in place in Guatemala pertaining to sexual harassment.
The incidence of rape, disappearances, torture and murder of women is high, and there is a culture of impunity in Guatemala regarding such crimes. As of 2004, 26 percent of all women in Guatemala had suffered some form of domestic abuse. There are also isolated reports of community-led lynching and other acts of vigilante violence for crimes such as rape that arise out of frustration with the authorities’ lack of response to these crimes. Guatemala is a country of concern for sex trafficking in women and young girls.
There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practiced in Guatemala.
During Guatemala’s civil war prior to 1996, of the 200, 000 estimated missing people, a quarter of them were women, and women’s human rights were seriously violated. Today, violence against women (especially sexual violence) is a continued long-term consequence of the civil war, to which is linked the culture of impunity, widespread poverty and social exclusion. Another long-term consequence is the high number of women widows, many of whom are destitute. Finally, Guatemala is a major source, transit and destination country for women and children for sexual exploitation purposes.
Guatemala lacks an adequate large-scale program to distribute contraceptives at low or no cost to women who may lack access or sufficient funds to purchase them herself. As a result 28 percent of women have an unmet need for family planning services in Guatemala, and almost forty percent for indigenous and unschooled women.The UN found that just 43.3 percent of women married or in union were currently using contraception in 2002, and just 34.4 were using a modern method.
Abortion is only permitted in Guatemala to save a woman’s life.
 Decree 22-2008; Guatemala Human Rights Comission/USA (GHRC/USA) (2009), Guatemala’s Femicide Law: Progress Against Impunity?, pp. 2, 17; US Department of State (2010)  Article 6 of the Law Against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women; GHRC 2009, p.. 9.  State Dept. 2010.  State Dept., 2010.  CEDAW (2006), Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, p. 4.  United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (2005), Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women: Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Yakin Ertürk: Addendum: Mission to Guatemala., p. 11.  U.S. State Dept. (2010) 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Guatemala.  State Dept. 2010.  Bastick, M., Grimm, K. and Kunz, R. (2007)  CEDAW 2007, p. 122.  United Nations (UN) (2007), World Contraceptive Use – 2007.  UN DESA (2011)
The 2011 female-to-male ratio for primary school enrolment is 0.97 and for secondary school enrolment it is 0.94.
2006 figures from the Encuesta de Condiciones de Vida (ENCOVI) study indicate that out of all children aged 7-14 years, 24.5 per cent of boys engage in economic activity versus 11.7 per cent of girls. However, out of all children aged 7-14 years, 69.9 per cent of girls spend an average of at least 1 hour per week doing household chores, compared to only 36.1 per cent of boys.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.97.
There is no evidence to suggest that Guatemala is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
Guatemalan legislation upholds women’s rights to ownership, but the reality is less straightforward. 26 percent of rural women farm their own land, while 58 percent are landless and work as hired labour.There are no legal restrictions on women’s access to land, but the percentage of female landowners is extremely low. When land is allotted to a household, it is registered under the name of both spouses; however, when it is allotted to an individual, women benefit in only 11 percent of cases. The government has established special programmes to improve women’s access to land and correct the current imbalance in favour of men.
There does not appear to be any discrimination against women in Guatemala in regard to access to property other than land; they appear to have equal rights to those of men, whether single, married or divorced.
There is no legal restriction on women’s access to bank loans in Guatemala. However, access is limited in practice because women often lack guarantees (such as title deeds). The rural bank grants very few loans to women for agricultural activities and indigenous women are generally unable to obtain loans. The co-operative movement and its micro-credit mechanisms is expected to improve the situation.
More than thirty years of armed conflict have left a legacy of high rates of violence against women, addressed in the Physical Integrity section. Otherwise, there are no reports of restrictions on women’s access to public space.
Freedom of speech is protected by the constitution, although in practice any criticism of the government or past human rights abuses is punished. The constitution also guarantees freedom of religion, though there have been occasions where members of indigenous communities have been discriminated against for the practice of their Mayan religion. Freedom of association and assembly are guaranteed and respected in general, but the police often uses force to end disruptive demonstrations, which sometimes results in cases of injury or death of some protesters.
Political representation by women is low in Guatemala. 19 of the 158 seats in Guatemala’s national Congress are held by women.However, there is a potential unmet desire for more female political leadership. In a 2004 survey, more than 67 percent either disagreed or disagreed strongly with the statement, ‘Men make better political leaders than women do.’
Women in Guatemala are offered 84 days of paid maternity leave, however they must present a medical certificate to their employer announcing their pregnancy. Women are paid 100 percent of their wages, two-thirds by the National Social Security Institute and the remainder by her employer unless she is ineligible for social security, in which case her employer pays the full amount. In order to be eligible, a woman must have contributed in three of the six months preceding her leave. It is illegal in Guatemala to dismiss a pregnant or nursing woman without just cause. However these protections are routinely violated in some sectors of the economy. Guatemalans seek to balance the work and home lives of women. Nearly 73 percent agreed or agreed strongly with the statement, ‘Being a housewife is just as fulfilling as working for pay.
 Freedom House (2010)  Inter-Parliamentary Union (2009), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments.  WVS 2004, Question V61.  International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions and Work Employment Laws.  CEDAW 2006, p. 6.  World Values Survey (WVS) (2004), Selected Country Sample: Guatemala:QuestionV60.
Guatemala has a strong indigenous culture, with the Maya making up about half of the total population, and more than 20 indigenous languages along with Spanish as the official language. The country emerged, in 1996, from a 36 yearlong guerrilla war. It is estimated that the conflict had created some 1 million refugees and over 100, 000 casualties.
Social inequality and poverty are widespread especially in rural areas: more than half of the population lives below the national poverty line. Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region – with 43% of children under five being chronically malnourished – and life expectancy is among the lowest. Finally, organised crime and street gangs are very present in the country, as it is a major route for drug smuggling from Latin America to the United States. In 2008 President Colom inaugurated a conditional cash transfer programme to give financial incentives for poor families to keep children healthy and in school.
Guatemala is classed by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country.
The 1985 Constitution of Guatemala does not include specific provisions about gender equality, but Article 4 upholds the principle of equality for all individuals. In 2002, the Penal Code was amended by decree to criminalise discrimination.In many cases, gender equality is contingent on the government’s willingness to apply the recommendations set forth in the National Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women (2001-2006). Gender-related legislation is applied in too few cases and strong patriarchal traditions persist in the judicial administration. Nearly 23 percent of households are headed by women, who earn a lower average wage than their male counterparts.
Guatemala ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1982, and the Optional Protocol on violence against women in 2002.
 BBC News (2011)  CIA (2011)  CIA (2011)  CIA (2011)  BBC News (2011)  CIA (2011)  World Bank (n.d.)  Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2008), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Guatemala, Seventh Periodic Report of States Parties, p. 24.  Decree No. 57-2002, Reform of the Criminal Code; CEDAW (2004), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Guatemala, Sixth Periodic Report of States Parties, p. 18.  CEDAW 2008, p. 16.  Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (2006), Guatemala: Country Gender Profile, p. 10.  United Nations Treaty Collection (2010n.d)
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