Women Disadvantaged on Access to Info, Study Finds

11 March 2015

Guatemalan women “face deep inequities in exercising their fundamental right of access to information,” according to a study (in Spanish) from The Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Initiative.

At a Feb. 18 stakeholders meeting, participants developed recommendations in response to the findings.

The study was carried out in five government departments and Guatemala City. Over 600 interviews were conducted with community leaders, experts, public agency employees, and citizens entering agencies for information or services.

“A significant majority of community leaders and experts agreed that women are not able to access information with the same facility as men,” according to a press release about the report. “Obstacles include poverty, illiteracy, fear, machismo, insufficient time and poor access to public agencies, and lack of knowledge about the right to information and how or where to ask for it.”

The recommendations include:

  • Establish an inter-institutional government committee focused specifically on the issue of women and the right to information.
  • Develop information campaigns, using accessible terminology and local languages, to raise women’s awareness of their right to access information and to encourage women to exercise that right, and campaigns aimed at sensitizing men to the benefits of this.
  • Conduct gender sensitization and human rights training for all public officials, particularly those working directly with the Offices for Access to Information in Guatemala.
  • Increase government efforts to assure that information more effectively reaches women, including through proactive publication; publishing information in local languages; developing a free telephone hotline for women seeking information; and setting up kiosks at public markets to receive requests for and provide information.
  • Conduct training and build capacity for civil society organizations to enhance their ability to access information and to support women in seeking information.
  • Increase use of community radio as a means of more effectively reaching women.
  • Create civil society liaisons at the municipal level who can assist women in making requests and share published government information.
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