Guatemala is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. According to a 2012 report by the Small Arms Survey, the small Central American country has the third highest rate of femicide – women being killed just for being women – in the world, behind El Salvador and Jamaica. During the Guatemalan Civil War, which lasted from 1960 to 1996, rape was used as a weapon of war against women. Perpetrators of gender-based violence in Guatemala often quite literally get away with murder, bolstered by a “machismo” culture that treats women as objects. Amnesty International has called on the state to do more to protect women.
This cultural backdrop makes it even more remarkable that for the last 19 years, Guatemala has also been home to a proudly feminist free newspaper called La Cuerda (The Cord). First published on 8 March 1998, International Women’s Day, it has been distributed monthly across the country ever since and has given a voice to women who would otherwise have been ignored.
In Antigua, in the south of the country, I met one of the newspaper’s four founders, Ana Cofiño, at her home to ask her about the challenges they’ve faced and her hopes for planting the seeds of Guatemalan feminism.