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Follow Stefanie from remote corners
of the Peruvian Jungle...
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International Advocacy

Achieving our vision—a world where all people have access to the information, services, and rights they need to live healthy and empowered lives—requires tenacity, energy, and innovation. It also requires favorable international legislation and policies, sufficient funding, and popular support. What’s more, we need a network of advocates that understand the real-life needs of the remote indigenous communities in Peru, the bustling tent cities of Haiti, and the high mountains in Bolivia—and who can bring these needs to powerful government actors at the national, regional, and international levels.

Stefanie Suclupe, an energetic 24-year-old professional nurse, is one of those advocates. A former board member and current volunteer with our Member Association in Peru, INPPARES, Stefanie spent a year providing health services with the Ministry of Health. Join Stefanie on her journey to provide basic—and often lifesaving—health services to people living in the remote corners of the Peruvian jungle. Then follow Stefanie for one day at the United Nations as she meets with government officials to advocate for the sexual and reproductive rights and health of all. Her professional experience, coupled with her participation in IPPF/WHR’s advocacy trainings, positions Stefanie as a key actor in the international arena.
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...to a day at the United Nations.
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Regional Advocacy

We are an agile and sophisticated network of advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights that works in nearly every country throughout the Americas. IPPF/WHR works side-by-side with individuals and organizations to strengthen their advocacy skills and develop robust civil society coalitions. We invest in youth leaders by building their capacity to shape the policies that affect their lives and to hold their governments accountable. Together, our network works to ensure that policies and programs meet the real-life needs of local communities.

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In collaboration with CEPAM, IPPF/WHR’s local Member Association in Ecuador, 26-year-old Cinthia Cuero has been mobilizing young people to demand the inclusion of sexual and reproductive health in the national youth law. If the legislation is passed, Ecuadorian youth will have better access to the health care and information they want, need, and deserve. In this video, follow Cinthia on her journey toward securing legislative victories and changing the relationship among government, civil society, and young people.
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    We demand our rights!
    Sexuality education for all!
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    Even our pets stand up
    for women’s rights!
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    IPPF/WHR and its network of advocates hold governments accountable to support young people’s rights to access health care.
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    Howard University students spend their spring break volunteering with the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network.
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    IPPF celebrated its 60th anniversary with a global “60 Days of Action” campaign to promote quality health care and sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Get involved 06
    IPPF/WHR and its network of supporters led a campaign to raise awareness about global gender-based violence and how ordinary citizens, young and old, are making change.
We want you to be among the millions of men, women, and youth throughout the Americas and the Caribbean who believe in a world of choice and opportunity for all.

2012 Advocacy Wins

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Victory for Youth Rights

Our partner in Peru, INPPARES, worked with other local organizations to overturn a Peruvian law that criminalized consensual sexual relations among young people and, as a consequence, severely limited adolescents’ access to health information and services. In a country where only 19 percent of young women between ages 15 and 24 had correct information about HIV/AIDS, this victory was a huge step forward for the health and rights of youth.

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HIV & Teen Pregnancy Prevention

APLAFA, our Member Association in Panama, employs a strong network of youth leaders who educate their peers about sexual and reproductive health—particularly the prevention of HIV and teen pregnancy. These youth leaders also provide recommendations to the government and APLAFA on making health centers more inviting and friendly to young people. This year, one of APLAFA’s youth leaders, Juan Lu, was honored as an “Agent of Change” by MTV Latin America!

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We Will End Violence Against Women

In addition to service provision, Profamilia worked closely with civil society allies and the Nicaraguan legislature to ensure the passage of a new law to prevent, sanction, and eradicate all forms of violence against women. The law puts a strong emphasis on ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence; it also sets strict penalties for perpetrators.

"Sometimes abuse makes us lose our self-esteem. What Profamilia is doing is a step in the right direction. It has been a breakthrough for me. Here, we are informing each other of the rights that one has as a woman." says Angela, a member of Mutuo Apoyo, a support group for women who have survived gender-based violence at Profamilia, our Member Association in Nicaragua.

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A Win for Sex Ed Advocates

“A lot of times not even our parents have adequate information [about sex and reproduction]. The information we get is confusing and incomplete,”
says one youth advocate at our Member Association in Guatemala, APROFAM.

Consequently, one in five Guatemalan mothers are between the ages of 10 and 19. In response, APROFAM has scaled up its advocacy efforts to ensure that young people have access to accurate and comprehensive information about their bodies, their health, and their rights. As a result of their efforts, the Guatemalan government implemented a comprehensive sexuality education program for youth in nine regions of the country.

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Making History

Last year, Costa Rica adopted a national sexuality education program for the first time in history! Without the technical experience, tenacity, and expertise of our Member Association in Costa Rica, ADC, and their allies, this victory would not have come to fruition.

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Success for Health & Rights

In April 2012, IPPF/WHR staff and youth volunteers spent long nights in the halls of the United Nations advocating with governments and challenging opposition during the UN Commission on Population and Development meeting on youth health and rights. In the end, governments agreed to a landmark resolution that called for robust investments in youth-friendly health services, comprehensive sexuality education, and the achievement of gender equality.

In 2012, IPPF/WHR and its network secured 37 policies in support of sexual and reproductive rights and health in the Americas and Caribbean.
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Peru's Historic Victory for Sexual Rights

Earlier this year, the long-standing advocacy efforts of our local Member Association in Peru—INPPARES— culminated in the Peruvian Constitutional Court’s ruling in favor of the health, rights, and autonomy of young people.

In 2006, the government of Peru amended the Peruvian Criminal Code to protect young people from sexual abuse and violence. Although its intention was to take a tough stance against sexual abuse committed against a minor by an adult, the amendment also criminalized all sexual activity among adolescents between 14 and 18 years old, regardless of consent, with draconian sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

In addition to violating the basic rights of adolescents, the law left “medical practitioners unclear of the treatment they should provide to adolescents…even jeopardizing prenatal check-ups as the pregnancy is the evidence of the crime.” It also left young people fearful of accessing the services they needed. Said one young Peruvian woman, “I had heard about this law and was scared…I was frightened to go to the hospital because I was scared [the government] would take away my baby or send me to communal housing, where I could no longer care for him.”

In Peru, where one in seven young women gives birth by age 19, the threat of harsh legal penalties had a negative impact on the health and well-being of young people. As a consequence, the rates of teen pregnancy and maternal mortality increased among young people once the law was passed.

Ever since this controversial amendment was approved, INPPARES worked closely with Women’s Link Worldwide and other civil society organizations to challenge the law as an unconstitutional violation of adolescents’ right to health care.

To support the needs of Peruvian youth, the coalition of advocacy groups undertook a risky strategy by initiating a legal negotiation process with the Constitutional Court to challenge the law. If the court denied their claim of unconstitutionality, it would reinforce the law’s legitimacy and leave little recourse to have it overturned in the future.

The proceedings began on shaky ground. Before the Constitutional Court would hear the case, they asked INPPARES to provide evidence of public support for its revocation. When the Constitutional Court requested to see 5,000 signatures from Peruvian citizens who believed the law should be changed, INPPARES altered its strategy and looked to the country’s youth to lead this advocacy campaign.

“Young people are capable of confronting the injustices that affect their lives,” said Ana Victoria Suárez, INPPARES legal counsel.

Within weeks, more than 50 youth groups across the country were mobilized and out in the streets. They went to busy shopping plazas and health fairs to raise awareness and collect signatures from youth and adults alike. They issued press statements, organized rallies, and wrote letters to the Constitutional Court. By reaching out to people living in both rural and urban provinces, the youth network not only met the goal; they more than doubled it.

INPPARES and its partners returned to the legal negotiations with 10,609 signatures asking to overturn Article 173, Paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code. In early January 2013, the Constitutional Court in Peru announced that the law has been changed, effective immediately. It explicitly recognized the sexual rights of adolescents and the importance of respecting those rights.

“As a youth activist, being part of this historic process to enforce human rights in Peru is an honor,” said INPPARES youth advocate Carlos Tacuri.“It fills me with hope that young people like me can fulfill our dream of building a more egalitarian society that respects the rights of adolescents.”

The Mesoamerican Coalition:
Measuring Success in the Region

In August 2008, at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, health and education ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean signed a historic agreement—the Ministerial Declaration, “Preventing through Education,”—to dramatically increase young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services by 2015.

In signing this agreement, Ministers took the first step towards eradicating barriers to access and upholding the sexual rights of all young people. Since that time, IPPF/WHR, in collaboration with Demysex of Mexico, has been organizing civil society in 19 countries to hold governments accountable for their commitments.

Through this alliance—the Mesoamerican Coalition—we have worked with more than 40 local organizations and IPPF Member Associations to evaluate progress towards achieving implementation, to spread awareness of the Declaration, and to engage in advocacy efforts with governments and other stakeholders.

An important part of our work within this Coalition is evaluating how far countries have come towards upholding their commitments. Four years after the signing of the Declaration, we have seen some promising advances. For example, in May 2012, Costa Rica adopted a national sexuality program for the first time in history. The program includes thematic issues and lessons that extend far beyond abstinence or the biology of reproduction. The curriculum approaches human sexuality in a comprehensive way, including lessons on human rights and gender equality, power and interpersonal communications, respect for diversity, and even pleasure. Without the technical experience and knowledge of our Member Association ADC and their allies from the Mesoamerican Coalition, which have been working closely with the Ministry of Education to develop the curricula, this victory would not have come to fruition. Although ensuring implementation of the program throughout the country will be an ongoing challenge going forward, its adoption is an important step towards meeting the real needs of youth in Costa Rica.

While progress has been made, many of us are asking governments, “¿Que Paso con lo Firmado?” or, “What happened to what you signed?” It is worrying to see that with two years left, many countries in the region are scoring well below this threshold—some as low as 24 percent. The low scores reflect the gaps and challenges our region has faced—and continues to face—in expanding access to comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly health services.

Nevertheless, our cross-country alliance to hold governments accountable is working, and we will not stop until the promises of the Ministerial Declaration become a reality for all young people.

“Comprehensive sexuality education is not a fad; it’s a right young people have to make informed decisions about our bodies and the ways we express our sexuality. It means that our generation will not be condemned to ignorance, discrimination, HIV infection, and unwanted pregnancies. Comprehensive sexuality education is a part of the recognition we deserve as thinkers and autonomous beings who participate democratically in the policies and programs that affect us directly.”
– Youth advocate in Mexico

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Test your comprehensive sexuality education knowledge now!
Read the statements and decide if they are true or false. This activity is from the It’s All One Curriculum, a resource guide for sexuality education providers that IPPF/WHR developed with other partners.
What is Comprehensive Sexuality Education? Adolescence is a time of tremendous change, both physical and social. That’s why IPPF/WHR invests in sexuality education programs that go beyond the biological aspects of sex and reproduction to include information and tools on decision-making and responsibility, building consensual relationships, and exploring gender norms. These tools not only help young people navigate adolescence safely and in good health; they help create societies free of discrimination, violence, and gender inequality.
Throughout the region, IPPF/WHR Member Associations are leading the way in expanding access to comprehensive sexuality education for young people. From St. Lucia to Ecuador, our partners are advocating for supportive government policies and creating quality programs that reach youth in and out of schools.
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IPPF/WHR believes that all people have the right to make autonomous decisions about their bodies and live free of discrimination and violence. We advocate for these rights with national governments, the United Nations, and international donors. At the same time, we empower youth to secure the information and services they need to live healthy lives.

The Result?

Young people make informed
choices about their health.