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Recognizing Achievement with the WestWind Awards
In partnership with 41 Member Associations in the Americas and the Caribbean, IPPF/WHR is making significant progress toward ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights are a reality for all in the region. Increasingly, governments are acknowledging the importance of investing in women’s health and rights. Just last week, the Pope publicly questioned the church’s relentless focus on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. These changes did not happen overnight; it is the product of the hard work and tenacity of advocates and local health providers.
For the past 60 years, our local partners in the Caribbean and the Americas have been changing hearts and minds, leaving a long-term impact on individuals, families, communities, and nations. They do this by providing high-quality health services like contraception and HIV testing. They do it by advocating with governments for supportive policies and funding. And while we have seen progress, our work is not done.
The generosity of our longtime supporter the WestWind Foundation allows us not only to work with our vast network of talented staff and volunteers across the region, but also to honor excellence within our network every year with the WestWind Awards. Last night, we honored three of our colleagues for their outstanding work in Advocacy for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Strengthening the Network in 2012.
Strengthening the Network: CIES Bolivia
In 2012, Centro de Investigación, Educación y Servicios (CIES) significantly strengthened its work in communications to ensure all Bolivians have access to accurate and comprehensive health care and information. CIES had more than 10 media appearances in national print, television and radio outlets each month. This visibility positioned CIES as a national expert on sexual and reproductive health and expanded their advocacy efforts. As a result, CIES had more advocacy victories on behalf of sexual and reproductive rights in 2012 than any other Member Association in the region.
At the same time, their media campaign dramatically impacted CIES’ work related to cervical cancer prevention. In Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in the region, the number of deaths from cervical cancer is seven times higher than in the United States. The Bolivian government began a national vaccination program in partnership with CIES, and the country has since seen a 20% increase in the number of early detection exams.
Advocacy for Sexual and Reproductive Rights: ADC Costa Rica
In August 2008, at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, health and education ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean signed an historic agreement to dramatically increase young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education and health services by 2015. IPPF/WHR organized a coalition of civil society organizations throughout the region to hold governments accountable to these commitments. One of the coalition’s most notable victories came last year, when Costa Rica adopted a national comprehensive sexuality education program for the first time in history.
Without the technical experience and knowledge of Asociación Demográfica Costarricense (ADC), which had been working closely with the Ministry of Education to develop the curricula, this victory would not have come to fruition. Through an innovative media campaign, ADC generated demand for comprehensive sexuality education programs, not only among young people, but among their parents. Today, Costa Rica has an excellent national comprehensive sexuality education program that reaches a large number of young people each year.
Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health: Profamilia Dominican Republic
Profamilia Dominican Republic works in one of the most difficult contexts in the region when it comes to our shared mission. Just last year, they were sued by the Catholic Church over a mass media campaign promoting youth sexual and reproductive rights. In the end, the court rejected the Church’s claim that the ads were in violation of the Constitution. The public and media support for Profamilia during and after the case was massive, but it was not an easy battle.
In a challenging context, Profamilia has kept sexual and reproductive health and rights on the public agenda. By changing social norms, it has been able to dramatically increase the number of services it provides, especially for young people. In 2012, Profamilia saw a 74% increase in the number of services provided to youth.
"For more than 30 years, Profamilia has been committed to working with young people, and we believe in their right to respectful, pleasurable sexual lives that are free from violence," said Magaly Caram, Executive Director of Profamilia. "This award serves as recognition of the thousands of young people who have joined this cause, and we dedicate it to them."
We are grateful for the WestWind Foundation's partnership in recognizing the incredible work being done in Latin America and the Caribbean year after year. Together, we can continue to make a real difference.