How Microsoft is helping give Guatemalan women an edge through literacy

This information provided by Smart Cities Council Compassionate Cities.
Mon, 2017-04-24 13:49 -- Compassionate C...

Partnering with communities where villagers live on less than $1.90 a day, CHOICE Humanitarian was established with the purpose of ending extreme poverty and strengthening families and communities. As you'll read below, giving women in Guatemala an "edge" through literacy should help make that happen. – Philip Bane

CHOICE Humanitarian, in connection with Microsoft Edge, launched a first-ever program designed to empower Guatemalan women to become literate in Spanish.

Microsoft Edge is a browser that provides new ways to read and write and find things on the web, and to get help from Cortana, the personal assistant in Windows 10.

"Working with Microsoft Edge, we chose Guatemala because language and geographical barriers separate the Q'eqchi' (Kekchi) population from the rest of the Spanish-speaking country," said Christopher Johnson, CHOICE Humanitarian economic development director. "This program is geared to women because when a woman can read, it is powerful for a family, a community and everyone around her."

Empowering women as leaders
No university in Guatemala teaches in Mayan languages. Without learning Spanish, no Q'eqchi' woman can enter college.

"Today there are only men on the community development committees," said Marta Coy, one of the first 18 women to take CHOICE and Microsoft Edge's Accent program. "If I knew Spanish, I could become a community leader and bring projects that help women."

"I want to be an example to guide my daughters to learn," she added. "They can become leaders and bring new things to the community."

The CHOICE and Microsoft Edge Accent program brings learning to women in their villages, providing them with an educational foundation to read, write and converse in Spanish.

A unique program
The Accent program works well in this scenario since:

  • It is open-source, which makes it adaptable for additional languages, curriculum, activities, etc.
  • It is geared toward adults with no technology experience
  • It teaches basic reading literacy skills and conversation in a second language
  • It does not require constant Internet connectivity
  • It provides student performance analytics

"Microsoft Edge is the perfect host to create this experience," said Clarice Chan, Microsoft program manager. "The browser allows students to draw on web pages like never before. They don't need to update an app. They get all the changes instantly."

Added CHOICE'S Johnson: "We are inviting the world to embrace this program and expand it so it can serve many populations and many needs. We applaud Microsoft Edge for that vision."

Watch a short video on the program.


This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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