As the demand to invest in education in Guatemala increases, resources remain limited among the rural, indigenous groups of Guatemala. Guatemala’s public education system is wrought with gender disparities and financial shortfalls among its most marginalized population. According to USAID, more than two million children do not attend school in Guatemala, most of whom are indigenous girls from rural areas.

Griselda, pictured here, began an internship with Mercado Global to accompany her secondary education two years ago after receiving a scholarship. Gender inequalities and financial disincentives make it almost impossible for young girls to stay in school during the transition between primary and secondary school. Data from the Center for Economic and Social Rights, shows that almost one in three children will not complete primary school in Guatemala and completion rates are 10 percent lower for girls.

However, Griselda remained strong in her pursuit to continue schooling and applied for several scholarships. Now, at 17 years of age and as the older sister to three girls, Griselda sees in education an opportunity to provide a better life for her family and help others in disadvantaged communities. I sat down with Griselda to get her perspective on education and the experience of working with Mercado Global. When asked how she valued education, Griselda responded, “Education is key to having a better life. Education is important for work, for a stable future, for my family, and for my community. Education and work are not opportunities that exist for women and I knew it was my only chance to have a strong future.”

Griselda represents many young women who have the potential to develop into agents of change in their communities when given the chance to pursue education and professional experience. Inspired by her work with the artisans of Mercado Global, Griselda hopes to study and pursue a career in social work in order to improve access to public health and education among women and children in indigenous rural communities in Guatemala. We discussed her passion for public health and her hopes to help prevent more children from dropping out of school, recognizing that nutrition is key to a child’s development.

“Nutrition is everything for children. I see many children who do not have the strength and energy to go to school and study each day, especially when they are malnourished. Their mothers do not know how to provide the right nutrition for their children, but it’s not their fault because they themselves did not receive education on nutrition.”

As an ambitious young woman, Griselda is able to live a life full of possibility and promise, and hopes to use her knowledge and experience to save families from poverty. With support from Mercado Global, young indigenous women are empowered to pursue an education and become leaders in their communities. Her story is truly inspiring and serves as a reminder of a simple truth: educating and investing in girls can change the world.