Meet the young people campaigning for change in Bolivia

Mike Clulow | Jun 27, 2017


From 2013 to March this year, Womankind has supported a project to promote the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescent girls and young women in Bolivia. Watch the film to hear from the young people involved.

Thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund (BLF), the project, "Improving health & reducing violence against women by boosting sexual rights in Bolivia” was coordinated by our partner and women's rights organisation, Centro de Promoción de la Mujer Gregoria Apaza (CPMGA) and implemented in six regions of Bolivia by a consortium of four organisations: CPMGA, Centro de Investigación, Educación y Servicios (CIES), Equipo de Comunicación Alternativa con Mujeres (ECAM) and Vivir Juntos.

The project aimed to improve women’s health and reduce violence against women and girls through six main approaches:

• Training of young people, parents, teachers and heads of schools. More than 1,400 young people were trained directly by the project partners, 70% of them girls.

• Peer-to-peer awareness raising by young people. 450 girls and boys between the ages of 13 and 20 became “change agents”, sharing their learning with more than 42,000 people, mostly school students but also parents, teachers and health professionals.

• Organisation of change agents into local groups for mutual support, further learning and coordinated action.

Training workshops with health providers, in particular those working in clinics used by students of schools participating in the project.

Awareness-raising campaigns. A series of radio programmes “Yes, we do talk about this!” was presented by the young change agents in each region and broadcast by 23 radio stations.

Advocacy and lobbying at local and national level targeting health and education authorities, local governments and other policy makers.

An external evaluation conducted during the first quarter of this year concluded that the project has had a clear impact on the lives of the adolescents and young people trained and supported, helping to reduce their vulnerability and empowering them to exercise and defend their sexual and reproductive rights.

Some of the most important achievements of the project include:

• Young beneficiaries of training and support – including peer-to-peer activities - are in a stronger position to identify and challenge patriarchal attitudes and behaviour and actively do so. This includes young women taking control in romantic relationships and taking informed decisions on their sexuality as well as boys rejecting violent and controlling behaviour. In training, school students have shown an encouraging degree of openness and interest in discussing sexual and reproductive rights and violence against women and girls.

Directors and teachers at many targeted schools have become enthusiastic supporters of the project, integrating the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights into their programmes and supporting activities that go beyond the school curriculum. Teachers in some regions have become active members of CIES’ leaders’ network. Change agents have reported greater tolerance by teachers to teenage romances, including same sex relations.

• A significant proportion of targeted health centres have begun to take concrete measures to provide differentiated care to adolescents and are providing improved services. Health providers and decision makers are more aware of the specific needs of young people and are engaging with the project partners and the change agents. In some clinics, they have established “youth corners” where doctors and change agents give talks and hold discussions with young patients and others. Young people report improved access to birth control methods and information concerning sexual and reproductive health.

Perhaps the biggest achievement of the project is the development of a cadre of young people – girls and boys – who have become true change agents and leaders and demonstrate c enthusiasm and willingness to talk openly about and actively promote sexual and reproductive rights and oppose violence. They have shown commitment, consistently indicating - individually and in groups - that they are going to carry on with this work.

Watch the film to hear from the change agents and read our blog.

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