Stories of Girls’ Resistance
Joseline, Gustemala


“There is a girl who is the daughter of my sister that I accompany, and thinking about her, I would say… That it is worth imagining, it is worth dreaming, that it is worth being angry. That… all people can be angry and have a mood but that they are not alone, that here in Guatemala, that here in their house, that there in Latin America they are not alone because we are thinking about them, not for them, but that we are thinking about them. Wanting to build better environments; safe, healthy, happy, dignified, rebellious, feminist and above all, women’s environments.”

Joseline’s Story

Joseline always tells me: “We are beautiful and powerful, the strength comes from our uterus, from the heart, and our smile. You are smart, and absolutely no one can harm you.” And, she says with determination: “We can be whatever we want. Whatever we choose or want in our life. We need to work a little, yes, because the world is unfair. But it is possible. All the girls, teenagers, youth, and women can do as many things as  we want. We need to believe, dream, and build utopias.” Her words connect deeply and transform into  actions. She writes on Twitter, “From our houses to the universities and onto the streets, and across Latin America. We are not alone!”

Joseline is great! I learned about her through social media and met her during an event. She is a crazy girl and a loyal companion that welcomes you. We connected on many things. We both get angry about  injustices. We are worried about the country’s events, and, above all, we firmly believe that things can be  different.

Joseline grew up in a neighborhood inside a “red zone” in Guatemala City. The”red zone” is a name given to areas where there is poverty, delinquency, and  lack of access to quality public services.  Joseline was able to study and have a safe environment at home and access recreational spaces. However, her reality could not be shared with all the other girls and teenagers from her neighborhood. She remembers how some  girls in her neighborhood could not study because their parents couldn’t afford  shoes or notebooks, and some could not go to school as they had to stay home to take care of their brothers.

At the age of 9, she received an invitation to participate in a holiday course to  practice swimming and soccer. It was a very positive experience as, besides sports, she learned about violence prevention. Even though she liked many things about her experience, she was the only girl and the place was located close to taverns and bus stops, which led to harassment.

At the age of 12, she took care of a baby for three days, changing diapers, feeding him, and  watching him sleep. This learning experience allowed her to  identify many challenges and complications that a teenager can face due to a  pregnancy, which made her recognise that: “maternity should only happen if I decide it and want it.”

Joseline’s mother is evangelical and her father catholic. They both guided her spirituality. She was grateful for their guidance, but recognises she did not agree with everything. They thought it was wrong that she carried  condoms in her purse. She was also mad about how they pushed religious indoctrination to support women’s submission, even justifying domestic violence.

Joselin said that the problem was not talking about sexuality at home or church. But, the implicit silence towards any young person which led the youth to search for information about the topic elsewhere and making decisions without the facts. This could make them to become victims  of violence.

Based on her experiences during her childhood, she got involved in educational activities, advocacy efforts, and participated in Guatemala’s Congress. Joselin also volunteered at APROFAM for many years. She had the  opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico to strengthen her  knowledge. Little by little, she became involved directly in youth movements. As she shares with pride: “I had the opportunity to contribute to the consultation process  to push the Guatemalan Youth Law. I pointed out that not all the realities were good or equal. We live in an unjust society where we suffer from violence in  many ways, especially kids and teenagers.” And, with another youth organisation, she helped to push the National Health and Education  Secreataies to codify integral  sexual education in Guatemala.

When asked if she is a feminist, Joseline says: “Yes. Although at the beginning I didn’t know.” She told me about one afternoon she was listening to a song that said: “By having a woman’s body, they think I’m sweet, but they call me bitch if I show skin on the street.” She had no idea who was singing the song or even half of the things mentioned in it. She decided to search information about the music on the internet  due to the appealing lyrics she had listened to. She would find that the singer’s name was Rebeca Lane, who identifies herself as a rapper and feminist. At that moment,  she began to wonder who is a feminist? What is a feminist? She learned more about feminism from other young women who, with time, she was able to learn that she was a feminist.

Joseline mentioned: “We have to do something. In Guatemala, nine of each ten  girls stop their studies due to a pregnancy. Many women don’t continue their studies  and are forced to work in precarious spaces. Also, many are forced to marry against  their will at a young age. Every four hours a woman suffers violence; those are the horrific facts, they are the ignored histories.” To work on addressing this ignored histories, Joseline has collaborated with multiple organisations, such as GoJoven, travelled to New York to participate in the  United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the reality faced by girls and women in Guatemala. Due to her work and efforts, Joseline, With Joseline, at 25 years of age, was recognised by the London BBC as one of the 100  most influential and inspiring women in the world.

Currently, Joseline studies law and journalism. She also continues her efforts to buld a more just world. She honors the women in her family and wants them, her mom,  sisters, nieces, and absolutely everybody, to live happy, with better opportunities, and no fears. And reminders us to: “Wherever you go, never forget about your roots. Appreciate your woman  ancestors because they contributed to the woman you are today. Don’t stay quiet, because you have the right to be heard and to listen to everyone….. I wish for a  world with movement, revolution, orgasms, twerking, and feminism.”