From where I stand: “Women don’t have to follow orders from men…women have rights too”

At thirty, Olga Macz is a teacher and entrepreneur, and a force to be reckoned with. She leads a women’s group in Campur, a small municipality in the mostly rural Alta Vara Paz department of Guatemala, which makes and sells organic shampoo. For many of the women, this is the first time that they are making their own money and making decisions.


Olga Macz. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Olga Macz. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

We knew how to make shampoo, but didn’t know how to improve the quality, how to package it and where to sell it. If not for this project, we would still be selling shampoo in empty coca cola bottles in the community.

We started new production only a few months ago, with new varieties of shampoo—avocado, cacao, honey, sapote and aloe—and we have already made more than 1000 Quetzals in cash. Business is good!Last year, we asked the municipal government to give us a space to sell our products. Now they have given us spots during the market days to sell our shampoo. We can sell in Tucuru market, and soon we will have a permanent spot in La Tinta market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I am sure we will have more income soon.

For me, personally, there have been many changes since this project. I learned about my rights; I learned that women don’t have to follow orders from men. Not only men have rights; women have rights too! My husband cannot raise his voice at me now. He knows I have been to workshops, seminars, and I know more than him.

I have been a teacher since 2009. I teach pre-primary and primary in a public school. Being part of this project has inspired me to study more. This year I have decided to go to the university and study to become a secondary school teacher.

I have many dreams… I want to buy a big house and a car. Sometimes, the women want to go to other places to sell their products. I want to learn how to drive and then in my car, I can take them where they want to go.”

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 5: Gender equality

Olga Macz, 30, lives in Campur, Guatemala and is part of the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women implemented by FAO, WFP, IFAD and UN Women in Guatemala, and funded by the Governments of Norway and Sweden. Today, Macz dreams of studying more, helping the women in her community and raising her daughter, who is four years old, to become independent and self-sufficient. Her story relates to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, which promotes decent work, entrepreneurship and sustainable economic empowerment for all; as well as SDG 5, on gender equality and women’s empowerment.