- Matilde Cali JatzMatilde Cali Jatz's professional experience includes working for the Child Fund Guatemala as a consultant. She worked as a researcher investigating the implementation of jobs for youth in 4 municipalities in Chimaltenango. As a young indigenous leader she has had to overcome tremendous personal ch...
March 27 2015— The 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW59), which took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 9th-20th, focused on the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PfA). This year, the Commission carried out a review of progress in fulfilling its goals.
The session gathered United Nations Member States and agencies as well as a great diversity of women’s and other civil society organizations from every region of the world. The activists and women’s organizations attending CSW aimed to ensure their voices were included in the discussions about the challenges faced in implementing the Platform for Action over the past 20 years, calling attention to the goals that were never reached and highlighting the most critical issues set out in the Beijing PfA that need to be prioritized from now on, including in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which will be adopted in September of this year.
Among the activists and organizations at CSW, was Ingrid Galvez, 2005 GOJoven Fellow and a leader from GOJoven Guatemala, who was also representing GOJoven International. Ingrid has experience as a youth representative in the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Montevideo (2013), CPD47, and in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on ICPD+20 in 2014, spaces in which she promoted the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of youth and adolescents in the process of ICPD +20.
In this 59th session, Ingrid and other SRHR activists arrived with the objective of influencing decision makers to guarantee that women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights for women, youth, and adolescents, were treated as human rights and considered as a basis for development.
The groups at CSW made themselves heard and affirmed that, after 20 years of work toward strengthening the Beijing Declaration and PfA and propelling its implementation, although progress has been made, there are still many challenges to address, which require increased commitment and scaling up the response to gender inequality and the violation of women’s and girls’ basic rights. The CSW Declaration drafted for the meeting was criticized for not reflecting the priorities of women’s groups, and for falling short of the level of commitment set out in the original Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 20 years ago, therefore representing a significant setback.
In solidarity with the allied organizations, another advocacy strategy used by the representatives of GOJoven International/GOJoven Guatemala and colleagues at the meeting was to consider how to influence the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , which will be agreed on in the framework of the Post 2015 Development Agenda in September, as well as the process of the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) in April 2015.
Additionally, Ingrid and allies in the region carried out actions and created spaces for dialogue with government delegates and the United Nations. Ingrid participated in many parallel events and met with Chancellor Carrera deform the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the UN in New York, with Guatemala’s Official Delegation. She also joined civil society groups in the Global Women’s Caucus and in CSW CoNGO LAC meetings to define strategies for making joint demands. She also participated in activities prior to CSW, such as an advocacy training workshop by IWHC for young women, and the march for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights on March 8th, International Women’s Day.
Ingrid did not leave CSW without making her voice heard, as well as that of thousands of youth from Guatemala and the region, when she was interviewed by various media outlets. Among them, Radio ONU (UN Radio in Spanish), which highlighted her voice and that of 4 young people from the region, who talked about what some of the pending topics in their countries are and why they are critical to the attainment of women’s rights. She was also interviewed by Mexico’s Cimac Noticias, where she denounced the criminalization of the human rights defenders and journalists.
Through their participation in CSW59, GOJoven Guatemala and GOJoven International helped reach important goals, increasing their visibility and, above all, making known the reality lived by young people in Guatemala and the region.
By Susanna Moore, of GOJoven International, and Ingrid Galvez, of GOJoven Guatemala
June 22, 2015
From May 13 to May 15, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, was held the Regional
Meeting: “Strengthening alliances to increase the availability of services and contraceptive supplies for adolescents and youth.” It was organized by the Regional Initiative for the Secure Distribution of Contraception Supplies (DAIA), with the support of the USAID’s Project Deliver. Both GOJoven Guatemala and GOJoven Honduras were summoned to participate in the event. As representatives of their organizations and of GOJoven International, were the executive director of GOJoven Guatemala, Ana Lourdes Tojin, and the Project Coordinator of GOJoven Honduras, Antonio Barahona.
With the goal of establishing alliances and generating tangible agreements to guarantee the delivery of condoms and other contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancies among adolescents and youth, DAIA brought together representatives of multiple sectors of seven countries of the region: Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, and Paraguay. The participants analyzed current national platforms, shared proven efficient methods to make contraceptives available, and considered how to position the topic of youth participation to promote actions that will reduce the unsatisfied necessity of condoms and contraceptives.
Participating in this event was a great learning opportunity for the representatives of GOJoven, since there was emphasis placed on the point of view of youth to collect valuable information, which government authorities will use to improve the design and the implementation of policies and programs relating to sexual and reproductive health in their countries. The participants focused on presenting the state of access to contraceptive methods to youth in their countries, highlighting successful, as well as unsuccessful, experiences. The representatives of GOJoven learned about successful experiences in other countries that could be useful in their local and national contexts. It was especially important or Guatemala to learn about how to improve the access to the male condom and how to advocate for the legalization of the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) in Guatemala. In addition, they analyzed the situation of unsafe abortions, and considered how to become allies in Guatemala to position the topic in a favorable way to be able to include it in the political agenda and eventually achieve legalization.
GOJoven representatives also contributed to the discussion. Antonio’s participation on behalf of GOJoven Honduras was important because he socialized the experience of “diplomatic breakfasts” that his organization is implementing to raise awareness about ECP to legislators. There was great interest in replicating this experience in other countries in the region. The voice of GOJoven Guatemala was also valued since they shared contributions of the work they have carried out in the Observatorio de Salud Reproductiva (Observatory of Reproductive Health) (OSAR) to maintain statistics on adolescent pregnancy. Government authorities at the DAIA Meeting were not aware of information such as that of the rural reality and youth’s perspective.
The most important result of the meeting for GOJoven Guatemala was that they were invited to be a part of the Technical Committee about the purchasing of contraceptives, integrated by the Ministry of Health, including el Encargado del Programa de Salud Reproductiva y el del Programa de Anticonceptivos, y el Ministry of Economy. In this very strategic new political position, GOJoven Guatemala now functions as a representative of youth and of civil society in the Committee.
This was a great opportunity for the representatives of GOJoven International’s network to join a regional dialogue with decision makers and leaders of various sectors, contribute their experiences and perspectives about the realities lived by youth and adolescents in their countries and, in terms of access to reproductive health supplies, to acquire new knowledge and resources to strengthen their labor and improve the services available in their countries, and to position themselves as regional and national referents in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Following a series of trainings on violence and sexual and reproductive health, fifteen Honduran women represented seven short plays focusing on violence prevention and sexual and reproductive health for an audience of over 500 people. These activities were developed in mid and late 2014 with the support of GOJoven Honduras and the Sombra Roja Theater.
The GOJoven Honduras team, in support of the group Mujeres Unidas in Tegucigalpa’s Campo Cielo neighborhood, created the community theater called “Realities of the Poor”, where the participants showed their daily experiences in a fun and very real way. The Campo Cielo neighborhood is located far from downtown Tegucigalpa and, like many other parts of Honduras, is an area affected by generalized crime and violence.
The trainings lasted five months and were given by GOJoven Honduras once a week. The participants were selected based on their commitment and leadership in their community. During the five months of training, the women participated in workshops on human rights, violence prevention and sexual and reproductive health led by GOJoven Honduras’ Executive Director, Gabriela Flores, the organization’s assistants Jinna Rosales and Antonio Barahona and three volunteers. The theatrical components were taught by GOJoven International graduate, Luis Joel Rivera.
The group of women wrote their own scripts and acted out seven short plays addressing prevention of domestic and sexual violence, drug addiction, pollution, unsafe living conditions, conflict resolution and crime. When the workshops were over, the plays were performed on two different occasions at the Rafael Antonio Barahona School in the Campo Cielo neighborhood, with over 500 community members in attendance.
The participants’ interest and enthusiasm for the trainings and for performing their plays made the sessions an enriching experience for GOJoven Honduras. During the trainings many of the women’s testimonies struck a chord with the GOJoven Honduras team. “It was a whole new experience. To see these women’s spirit taught me about their perseverance and drive. This is something I’ll carry with me and will make me love my work even more”, said Jinna Rosales.
This project was funded by Creative Associates International in the framework of a series of actions to prevent violence in Honduras. To keep up to date on GOJoven Honduras’ activities, visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/redgojovenhonduras and at gojoven.org/español/gojoven-honduras.
Other links of interest:
By Dunia Orellana, GOJoven Honduras
December 11, 2014 – Mexico City, Mexico.
More than 50 regional organizations and leaders participated in the 2014 Central America Donors Forum held in Mexico City on December 2nd and 3rd, organized by the Seattle International Foundation in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, Hispanics in Philanthropy and USAID.
At the 2014 Donors Forum, GOBelize and GOJoven Honduras were among the five winning proposals selected by the Central America and Mexico Youth Fund (CAMY Fund).
The CAMY Fund supports youth leaders in the region between the ages of 18 and 35 to implement innovative projects with their organizations, designed to demonstrate a tangible impact on issues of gender equality for girls and sexual and reproductive rights for adolescents and youth. The Fund aims to invest more than one million dollars in the region over the next five years.
Gabriela Flores of GOJoven Honduras presented the advocacy project “My Body, My Rights”, pushing for the decriminalization of emergency contraception (EC), as did Elmer Cornejo on behalf of BOBelize with the advocacy project “Responsibility and Prevention through Education”.
The Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE) based in El Progreso, Honduras, won with the project “Creating Friendly Spaces”, coordinated by Dunia Carolina Perdomo, to promote sexual and reproductive health education (Crea). The other projects selected were from Fundación Alas in Guatemala, represented by Fidelia Chub Choc, and Red Posithiva in Mexico, represented by Antonio Arce.
GOJoven was present starting with the first meeting, in which presenters and participants analyzed the challenges posed by the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle Plan (Plan de la Alianza para la Prosperidad del Triángulo Norte), which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and aims to scale-up economic opportunities in Central America and propose measures to address the migratory crisis.
Violence, unequal opportunities and access to health in Honduras were some of the issues addressed in the Forum, which was attended by many national and international organizations that operate in Honduras, including Trocaire, Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa, Creative Associates International, Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres and the Summit Foundation.
Original article published in Spanish on the GOJoven Honduras blog: http://gojovenhonduras.blogspot.com/2014/12/gojoven-honduras-y-go-belize-reciben.html
September 23, 2014
Yesterday, Monday September 22nd, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Special Session about ICPD beyond 2014 was held at the United Nations headquarters in New York. And GOJoven was there!
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) was first held in 1994 in Cairo, Egypt, with the participation of 179 governments that adopted the ICPD or “Cairo” Programme of Action (PoA). That was the first time that the right to sexual and reproductive health was formally recognized in an international agreement. Following periodic reviews and expansion of the commitments every five years, now, in 2014, the 20-year deadline for fulfilling those commitments, as established in the PoA, has come to an end.
Yesterday the UNGA met especially to review the fulfillment of the ICPD commitments and discuss how to continue advancing governments’ commitments to sexual and reproductive health for all beyond 2014. In addition to governments, session participants included many leaders from a wide diversity of civil society constituencies –including two GOJoven Fellows- who were advocating for the promotion and prioritization of their rights.
Prior preparatory processes in which civil society also participated included the First Regional Conference on Population and Development, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2013. The result was the Montevideo Consensus, in which governments from 38 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean ratified and expanded their commitments from Cairo and turned the region into a leader and driving force behind the push to expand sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in international agreements. GOJoven was well represented at that Conference by Wendy Aguilar of GOJoven Honduras, Ingrid Galvez and Wilson Campa of GOJoven Guatemala and Nancy Leiva of GOBelize.
Since negotiations for the Post-2015 Development Agenda are currently underway, and will be defined by next year, this Special Session represented a unique opportunity to fight for the full incorporation of SRHR in the new Sustainable Development Objectives of the Post-2015 Agenda.
The participation of Ingrid Galvez, GOJoven Fellow in 2005 and current Member of the Board of Directors of GOJoven Guatemala, was the result of her ongoing participation in different ICPD-related spaces in Guatemala, Uruguay and the United States. The specific objective of GOJoven Guatemala’s contributions on this occasion was to serve as the reference organization that will follow up and monitor the fulfillment of the ICPD PoA in Guatemala on behalf of young people, since she was the country’s only civil society representative from the youth movement and from the SRHR movement that participated at UNGASS. Alongside other activists, Ingrid actively participated in the actions of the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of Young People toward Cairo+20 and the Global Youth Caucus during UNGA. These groups aimed to link the commitments from prior consensuses, using the Montevideo Consensus as a model, and advance strategic working relations with the national delegations to increase the number of countries whose positions favor SRR. By invitation of the Alliance, Ingrid also participated in a meeting with Chiefs of State and UN entities such as UNFPA, where Ministers from different regions of the world spoke about what is being done in their countries to advance SRH. They recognized the indelible leadership of young people as necessary for translating the Post-2015 Agenda to action.
Stephen Daniel Diaz, GOJoven Fellow from Belize since 2013, has worked in SRH since 2006, playing an active role in defending the rights of people living with HIV and in prevention. He is now Director of a new NGO in his country: Belize Youth Empowerment for Change, which he created with his team of GOJoven Fellows in 2013 to work with the diversity of young people who suffer discrimination and marginalization. At UNGASS, Stephen acted in representation of young people in Belize, having taken a joint, open letter developed during the last young people’s meeting that was signed by GOBelize. In addition to strengthening partnerships with other civil society groups and allies, Stephen gave voice and continuity to the joint demands made in the young people’s letter.
More than 10 other GOJoven members have been actively participating in the ICPD+20 process in their countries and region during recent years, although not all of them were able to attend the Special Session in New York. One of them is Gabriela Flores, Executive Director of GOJoven Honduras. Gabriela was working to achieve the inclusion of civil society representatives in the official national delegation from her country, but the government did not accept the request. Nonetheless, Gabriela, together with other activists in Honduras, developed a joint civil society document showcasing their demands for ICPD+20 and advocated their government to adopt and support those demands. The document was given to the First Lady of Honduras prior to UNGASS, and reached other delegations and governments in New York by way of allies attending the meeting.
Two important reports by the UN Secretary General that framed yesterday’s discussions were: the Index Report “Recurrent themes and key elements identified during the sessions of the Commission on Population and Development” and the “Framework of Actions for the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the ICPD Beyond 2014“. Both reports reflect advances that should encourage governments to deepen their commitments to the struggle for human rights and equality, including access to SRH.
Following up on yesterday’s session, the GOJoven representatives will keep working in their countries and region to strengthen advocacy actions promoting SRR and build greater support for the commitments that governments discussed at UNGASS. More information will be coming soon about the results and impact of their participation and their joint efforts with other advocates in calling for the fulfillment and expansion of commitments to youth and adolescent SRHR beyond 2014.
Article by Susanna Moore, GOJoven Program Associate
GOJoven International is a program of the Public Health Institute.
For more information: http://gojoven.org/
Inspired by Five Billion Day back in 1987, around the time world population reached five billion, World Population Day (WPD) has been shedding light on global population trends and issues every July 11th since 1989.
This year’s theme for WPD is right along the lines of one of GOJoven’s values: changing the world by investing in youth.
According to the United Nations, today, there are over 7 billion people in the world and 1.8 billion of them are young people, making up the largest-ever generation of youth. Many of these youth are facing roadblocks such as poverty, inequality, and human rights violations that get in their way when trying to get ahead.
GOJoven trains young leaders to address these roadblocks. Throughout the program, GOJoven Fellows develop skills and knowledge in a wide range of topics including: personal leadership, strategic communications, facilitation and training, financial management and fundraising. Those skills and knowledge empower and support the individual’s vision to create positive change that spreads past their own lives, into their communities and their countries.
Esther Barajas who became a GOJoven fellow in 2006, grew up envisioning herself with a doctorate in public health and overcame many challenges to get it, including her father discontinuing to pay for her education.
Her work going through the GOJoven Youth Leadership Fellowship was an investment that is paying off because now, Esther is giving back to the community. She works with Tan Ux’il, an organization in Guatemala that focuses on providing youth firendly sexual and reproductive health services and investing in youth so they can live happy healthy lives.
John F. Kennedy said “the youth of today, they shall be the leaders of tomorrow.” An investment in today’s youth in an investment in tomorrow.
Stay up to date with our efforts to invest in youth by subscribing to updates using the form below, and liking us on Facebook today!
“Human life and the natural world are inseparable.” –Saul Pauu Maaz, GOJoven Fellow and indigenous Q’eqchi’ Mayan leader, author of “The Earth is Not Ours, We Merely Borrow it From Our Children: Lessons from the Maya Q’eqchi”
If human life and the natural world are inseparable, then so are reproductive rights and environmental sustainability. Here at GOJoven, we believe that women have a right to choose if, when and how often they have children and that this choice leads to better health outcomes and a healthier planet. In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, 2014 GOJoven reflects on the importance of connecting population, health and the environment in our quest to improve the lives of youth and adolescents where we work in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
Across the globe, organizations and policy makers are calling for investment in programs that connect population, health and environment. Pathfinder International notes that an integrated Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) approach that addresses both sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and the environment has a “greater impact on improving reproductive health and natural resource management outcomes” and is more cost-effective than addressing each issue separately.
The link between SRH and the environment resembles a multi-directional roundabout, rather than a one way street. Environmental degradation leads to negative health outcomes. As Charlotte Brody and Julia Varshavsky’s point out in their article The Flip Side: How the Environment impacts Our Reproductive Health, the chemicals that poison our food and the car exhaust that pollutes the air we breathe can lead to infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, among other issues. Conversely, lack of sexual and reproductive health rights limits women’s and families’ abilities to adapt to environmental stresses by choosing if, when and how often to have children. On the positive side, reduced population growth resulting from providing sexual and reproductive health services and choices enables communities better to manage their natural resources; while community collaboration to promote sustainability itself builds community resilience and promotes health.
GOJoven Mexico, a new youth-led organization in Quintana Roo, Mexico created by Fellows of the Public Health Institute’s Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven), is taking action to protect reproductive rights and the environment.
We recently interviewed the Secretary of the GOJoven Mexico Board of Directors, Lemuel Vega, to see what he had to say about SRH and the natural world. Lemuel has worked hard to conserve and monitor sea turtles in Cozumel, and has participated in international spaces such as the United Nations Climate Change Conferences, COP 16 in Quintana Roo in 2010 and COP 17 in South Africa in 2011 to advocate for environmental conservation and connect it to reproductive health. Lemuel has observed that “unplanned adolescent pregnancy leads to school dropouts among both girls and boys; among girls because they need to give birth, and among boys because they have to work to support their new family.” This ultimately leads to youth unemployment, an increase in poverty, and an unsustainable use of local natural resources.
Knowing the link between sexual and reproductive health and a healthy environment, Lemuel told us that one solution is to teach comprehensive sexual education in schools so that youth can make responsible and informed decisions about their sexual behavior and fertility. GOJoven Mexico steps in during high school student’s mandatory chemistry classes to teach them about SRH and their right to choose if, when and how often they have children.
The benefits of GOJoven’s work to educate youth about their sexual and reproductive rights move beyond promoting safe sex and planned families. GOJoven’s work helps create a healthy planet and a safe space for all of us to raise happy families, because human life and the natural world are indeed inseparable.
Throughout 2014 we will be sharing PHI’s numerous accomplishments to improve the public’s health in California, in the US, and across the globe. This includes highlighting the important impact of our numerous programs and projects on thousands of people, organizations and communities.
Each month PHI will highlight a specific area of work and plot PHI programs’ contributions to that area on a timeline.
- In January PHI began by providing an overview of the 50th Anniversary
- In February PHI highlighted GOJoven’s work in the area of Women, Children and Youth
- March focused on Tech and Innovation projects
- April highlighted PHI’s large body of work in Food Policy, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention
- In May PHI focused on GOJoven’s growing work in Environmental Health and Climate Change
While PHI is turning 50, our Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven) is turning 10! Over the years we have collaborated with over 200 youth leaders and their organizations in four countries, and now our graduates are creating a regional movement of young leaders in sexual and reproductive health and rights. GOJoven graduates are working hard to establish their own organizations to further the mission of GOJoven:
For over 10 years GOJoven has been inspiring youth leaders with the power of change to ensure that youth human rights are promoted and protected everywhere. Stay up to date with GOJoven’s progress in the region by liking us on Facebook and subscribing to news updates below.
From April 2 to 11, 2014 three GOJoven Fellows advocated for the inclusion of youth and sexual and reproductive rights in policy and programming at the United Nation’s 47th Commission on Population and Development (CPD47) held at the UN headquarters in New York. Wendy Aguilar represented GOJoven Honduras, Ingrid Galvez represented GOJoven Guatemala, and Nancy Leiva represented GOBelize. Nancy also sat on the official National Delegation of Belize with government and civil society representatives, participating in closed negotiations on behalf of Belize.
These three Alumni were selected and sponsored by IWHC and its partners to attend the Global Caucus, Latino Caucus, and Youth Caucuses, as well as an Advocacy in Practice training prior to CPD47. All three fellows were selected for their prior experience in advocacy, including their participation in the First Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean in Montevideo, Uruguay, in August 2013, giving input into the resolution document. At CPD47 the Fellows advocated for country governments to be accountable in implementing the ICPD Programme of Action and the inclusion of sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents and youth into the final CPD47 outcome document. You can access the outcome resolution titled “Assessment of the Status of Implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development” on our SRH Resources page, here.
Read these three young Central American women leaders’ first-hand accounts below:
“The work is not over yet! As everyone returned back home it is clear that more work at national levels is key to making the final document for Post 2015 progressive and favorable to SRHR [sexual and reproductive health and rights]. I think it is key that GOJoven fellows like myself continue to take part in and follow-up with these conferences because the learning experience is essential and it empowers youth to hold their governments accountable to their actions especially with respect to these documents….As a result of this experience I was able to share information with the CEO of the Human Development Department of Belize about the work of GOBelize and we hope to have a meeting with her to discuss our work.”
“My participation in this event has left me with new knowledge about regional and global advocacy as it relates to meetings where decisions are made that affect the whole world…For GOJoven Honduras it is very important to participate in these local, regional, and global advocacy processes, because we’re conscious of how these decisions positively and negatively affect the way human rights, especially sexual rights and reproductive rights, are exercised.”
“I learned about analysis and advocacy from a local-to-global perspective, about the mechanisms of action of international groups, related outcome documents and international frameworks, and the working relationships between feminist, youth, indigenous, and SOGI [sexual orientation & gender identity]-focused organizations…our realities are different, but our problems are generated by the same causes, including inequality, machismo, homophobia, corruption, and development models that perpetuate these problems on a global level. I felt proud to represent GOJoven Guatemala and share our achievements over all these years, and above all, our vision for the future. Though I feel somewhat discouraged knowing that our voices are silenced and our participation made invisible by the problems we face, I continue to believe, more strongly than ever, in the importance of our work, and that advocacy is profoundly useful in reaching our goals.”
This month, billions of people across the US and in Latin America congratulate and celebrate mothers and motherhood. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes and have unique experiences and stories to tell. Think of your mother and all the mothers you know. Now think of a teen mother. Who do you see?
At GOJoven we see vibrant, capable women with powerful and important voices in the conversation about comprehensive sexuality education and access to contraceptive care and information. Teen mothers certainly face numerous challenges, but the current rhetoric surrounding teen motherhood blames teens for getting pregnant. As Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, states, “Many countries have taken up the cause of preventing adolescent pregnancies, often through actions aimed at changing a girl’s behavior. Implicit in such interventions are a belief that the girl is responsible for preventing pregnancy and an assumption that if she does become pregnant, she is at fault.”
Teen mothers aren’t the problem, and shaming teen mothers only stigmatizes women in need of services and support. In the US, preventing unintended pregnancy among teens means boosting comprehensive sexuality education, and increasing access to youth-friendly healthcare services, including inexpensive and effective contraceptive care. Rather than shaming and blaming, we need to protect a teen’s right to decide when and how often she becomes pregnant. The same is true in Central America.
Nekeisha is a young Belizean woman who became pregnant at an early age. In her digital story below, she shares how she really didn’t know about contraceptives before she got pregnant, and she still feels the tension between loving her children and missing her life as a relatively care-free teen. Since completing the Public Health Institute’s GOJoven Youth Leadership Fellowship Nekeisha has made it her mission to educate other young women on their rights and how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy. Rather than blaming and stigmatizing teen pregnancy, Nekeisha shares her experience with adolescents, teaching them about the many ways they can avoid becoming unintentionally pregnant.
Hundreds of GOJoven fellows like Nekeisha are dedicated to improving and expanding adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) choices, programs, services, and policies through education and advocacy. This year, GOJoven fellows are mobilizing to ensure that the Ministries of Health and Education in Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala uphold their commitment to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools. Stay up to date with their efforts by subscribing to updates using the form below, and liking us on Facebook today!
Let’s destigmatize teen motherhood and address the real causes behind unintended pregnancy in the US and globally!