Laura E. Asturias lives on the outskirts of Guatemala City, thousands of miles from Women’s Justice Center. She is an irrepressible feminist who, while raising a daughter and son for an independent life, adopted empiricism as a way of life, convinced that in the experiences acquired at each step taken, together with professional education and also without it, there are a wealth of lessons for oneself and for others.
Laura became involved in the field of sexuality and AIDS as a facilitator of workshops for adults and adolescents. She has worked as a journalist and columnist, and since 1992, she has published hundreds of opinion pieces in diverse media both in and beyond Guatemala. Laura was also one of the hosts of “Voces de Mujeres”, which started in the 1990’s and, at the time, was the only feminist radio program.
In 1997 Laura founded the weekly electronic feminist magazine “Tertulia”, which for a number of years was the only extensive information service about women published and disseminated from Central America. In 1998, she co-founded “La Cuerda”, the only feminist publication in Guatemala (distributed widely in the country with 20,000 copies printed monthly and distributed electronically to all continents). She started as co-editor, and later became editor until 2007.
Currently, Laura runs a translation service working exclusively with international non-governmental organizations whose works conform to her convictions.
It’s likely that just a decade ago we wouldn’t have found each other, but a little over ten years ago, in what seemed a local electronic conversation about the Teresa Macias case, Laura joined the discussion, asking questions as if she were seated on the other side of the table.
Today, in a way that has not lost its magic touch, Laura is a friend, colleague, and integral part of the Women’s Justice Center community, as well as we are in her life. We routinely go to Laura for her fast and impeccable translations. Laura also used to incorporate our work in her own electronic magazine. Most invaluable are our easy chats through electronic mail sustaining our camaraderie.
Laura tells us that, in the Guatemalan capital, women are able to access the net in offices and Internet cafes, and many women now have their own personal home computers, and still others have laptops. But for the great majority of women who reside in rural areas, she says, such access is often impossible due to continued isolation exacerbated by female illiteracy (which in some remote towns is as high as 95%), by the 24 different languages that exist in the country, and the lack of respect for indigenous values and culture in general.
Laura feels confident that people can learn and are willing to better their lives when they have complete and accurate information and adequate resources. But her optimism is tempered by what she considers a hard reality: the presence of the ultra-right religions in all corners of her country, and the proliferation of sexist men in all levels of government.
Even so, many women in Guatemala, fed up with the patriarchal yoke which has weighed them down for centuries, have made enormous steps to obtain their autonomy. And some men are more willing to separate themselves from sexist attitudes and behavior. This gives Laura confidence that a not so distant future may generate deep and wide changes in the Guatemalan social weave.
If you need translations, contact Laura at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to receive the feminist publication “La Cuerda” (in Spanish) by email, you can subscribe at: email@example.com