We are excited to announce that Vanessa Siliezar, GOJoven’s Country Representative for Honduras, was awarded the Central American Women’s Leadership Fellowship (CAWL) 2011 through iLEAP, The Center for Critical Service. This inspiring young leader traveled to Seattle, Washington in September 2011 for three months to participate in the fellowship’s intensive training program designed to strengthen and expand the leadership capacities of international social change leaders. Check out this article to learn more about her experience.
While in the United States this fall, this passionate young advocate traveled to Los Angeles on November 4th to present on her work on promoting human rights and sexual and reproductive rights in Honduras at the Western Regional Feminist Campus Leadership Conference hosted by the Feminist Majority Foundation. There, she shared her unique experience working for GOJoven in Latin America. “I spoke with campus leaders about my experience in Honduras,” she said. “I told them that young women in my country can make a difference. Family planning is very important in a region with a lot of violence against women, most of them young, who do not have the same access to education, health or freedom from violence.”
At the conference, Siliezar engaged in a discussion with an audience of over one hundred and forty young feminists from university campuses around California about the reality of being a feminist and a Latina from Honduras. “For me, it was a great opportunity to share with other young women of Latino background,” she said. “Our parents don’t like having a daughter as a feminist, lesbian or women’s rights activist. We share this problem in Honduras, when we dare to name ourselves ‘feminists.’”
Siliezar said that despite the enormous barriers she faces living in a conservative religious nation, she continues advocating for increased access to contraception and HIV/AIDS services, equal rights for women, and a society free of violence against women. It helps that she brings a deep passion, commitment and courage to this mission.
Following her visit to Los Angeles, Siliezar traveled to PHI’s headquarters in Oakland where she presented to PHI staff members on her work. In this presentation, Siliezar also discussed the current situation in Honduras with regard to Human Rights and Sexual and Reproductive Rights and how PHI’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs have supported these movements in Honduras.
On November 23rd, Vanessa also visited the Oakland office of U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, where she met with Senior Congressional Aide Daniela Quintanilla. Vanessa described for Quintanilla the critical importance of the work GOJoven fellows do building support for international reproductive health in Latin America, including Honduras. Vanessa also expressed her own admiration for Representative Lee’s advocacy in Congress on support of U.S. Government funding for international reproductive health, as well as global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment efforts through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.