Guatemala adopted its first National Action Plan (NAP) in 2017, but the NAP does not identify a specific period of implementation. The NAP was developed by the Inter-Agency Roundtable on Women, Peace and Security (MIMPAZ), which was established in 2012 with the specific goal to promote and facilitate Guatemala’s implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) resolutions. Guatemala’s NAP contextualizes the WPS agenda by providing a detailed overview of national and international legal frameworks, focusing on specific developments that propelled the advancement of women’s rights. The NAP also offers a gender equality analysis of women’s participation in peace negotiations, executive and legislative bodies, and the security and justice sector in Guatemala. The NAP situates the suggested action items within the country’s post-war context, highlighting the links between wartime aggression and post-conflict violence perpetrated against women. The NAP’s overarching objectives lie in mainstreaming gender equality and women’s rights across the country’s social and political spectrum. These objectives have corresponding actions and entities responsible for implementation. Nevertheless, the NAP does not include an allocated budget, with each implementing entity held responsible for financing assigned actions.
The most recent conflict in Guatemala’s history is the Guatemalan Civil War, which lasted from 1960 until 1996, leaving 200,000 casualties as well as thousands of disappeared and displaced people. The conflict had a distinct gendered impact on women, with sexual violence used as a weapon of war. Within the context of the war, women began organizing in the 1980s to protest against the killings and disappearance of their loved ones. Women were also actively involved in the peace talks through their advocacy as part of the Women’s Sector in the Assembly of Civil Society, which was formed to bring civil society recommendations to Track I negotiations. Thanks to the work of diverse women’s organizations, 11 out of the 13 final accords addressed gender equality and women’s rights, with five accords including specific provisions on promoting women’s rights. Nevertheless, only two women were included in the formal peace negotiation delegations.
Despite their involvement in the country’s post-war reconstruction, women in Guatemala are still grappling with the remnants of the war. Increased sexual violence and rape continue to affect women, with indigenous women disproportionately being impacted by rights violations and discrimination. In 2017, two former military officers were convicted with charges of sexual slavery during the war. This landmark proceeding (known as the “Sepur Zarco case”) led to the recognition of sexual slavery as a crime in a national court for the first time as well as granting reparation measures to the survivors. In 2019, amidst growing national and international pressure, the Guatemalan Congress backed down on passing an amnesty bill, which would have freed military officers convicted of human rights violations.
In 2019, Guatemala was among the top 10 countries in the world with the biggest increase in their military expenditure, with a 24% increase in its military spending.