Overview – Women's Wisdom of Central America

Rigoberta Menchu was born in 1959 and won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her work raising consciousness about the plight of the indigenous people of Guatemala and human rights violations during the Guatemalan civil war. She went to Catholic boarding schools during her middle and high school years and has strongly advocated for the rights of indigenous feminists.  Menchu writes about the birth ceremonies surrounding the indigenous people of Central America and strongly links the present to the past.  There is no separation between the sacred and the profane in this world and worship and work are indistinguishable. Pay attention to the rituals and their deeper meaning as a new child is birthed into the world surrounded by this particular community.

Learning Objectives – Women's Wisdom of Central America 

1) Become acquainted with the birth rituals of the indigenous people of Guatemala as described in the work of Rigoberta Menchu, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who advocates for the rights of women in this milieu. 

2) Compare and contrast these birth ceremonies with those of your own culture.

Summary and Analysis

This summary and analysis of Menchu's chapter on birth rituals is an interesting comparison to our Western cultural norms of birthing.


As you read ask yourself how this worldview compares/contrasts with your own.  How does this wisdom challenge Western ideas of individualism and what is the community's role in raising a child in this context? Write up to 500 words comparing your own understanding of bringing children into the world with Menchu's observations.

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