“The State of World Population 2011 reveals that Guatemalan women between 15 and 49 years have on average 3.8 children (2010-2015), when the average Latin-American level is 2.2. For indigenous women, this percentage is 4.5 children per female of reproductive age, which continues to place the country as the holder of the highest fertility rate in Latin America.” - The Guatemala Times, October 27, 2011
It is often the case in Guatemala that indigenous women in rural areas begin having children from the time they are first physically able to, and they will continue to have children until they are beyond child-baring years or they suffer an untimely death. Much of what is known about conception and birth in the modern world is but rumors and whispers in rural Guatemala, if even that.
“The problem was nobody ever told me about pregnancies or where babies came from,” said Olga. “Then my belly started growing and I remember a woman asking me, and I told her it was my boyfriend’s, but I didn’t even have a boyfriend because my father wouldn’t even let me have friends.” - Vivian Siu for Unicef, 28 November 2011
Guatemala and much of Central America have a great lack of education about conception, pregnancy and birth. The problem extends well beyond education, however, as the public health care available to pregnant women – often their only choice – can be dangerous and life-threatening in and of itself.
Doctors in Guatemalan hospitals often treat indigenous people as less than people. They are given less attention and less care than others, important medical procedures are often passed off to unqualified subordinates, and a general lack of communication figures greatly into mistakes and complications in care during and after treatment.
“Giving Women A Choice” is a short documentary that centers on Manos Abiertas, a women’s health clinic in Ciudad Vieja, just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. The organization strives to spread accurate information and provide a safe, comfortable environment for local and indigenous women to come to for health issues.
Find out more about the filmmakers, the subjects and Guatemala at www.actualitymedia.org
This video was produced on location by an Actuality Media student crew and shot with a Canon XA10.
Director: Andrea Keating
Producer: Alicia Johnson
Cinematographer: Morgan Coleman
Editor: Aura Arana
Actuality Media is an organization that takes media students to developing communities around the globe to create positive media that tells the story of changemakers doing good works to fight societal and environmental problems that plague the world. These short documentaries were each produced during a thirty day outreach where crews researched their subject changemaker, wrote out their story, filmed and edited it.