Teaching for reproductive rights in Los Planes

Dina (far right) and a group of the women in the reproductive rights workshop

Reproductive and sex education is a topic that is being openly discussed more frequently today in our region of Guatemala. This is to provide all people with knowledge and values that empower them to care for their health, well-being and dignity based on respect, and to have the ability to decide and act consciously about their sexuality.

Talking about sexuality in rural areas has always been a challenge and sexual education continues to be a taboo topic for many communities. For some it is uncomfortable to talk about sexual and reproductive rights and all that this entails and represents for every human being.

In addition, the health system in Guatemala is uneven and in several health centers there are no medicines, doctors or the necessary supplies to care for the community.  When training for reproductive health, several centers will not participate. They have contraceptive methods, condoms, even safety kits available for women who have been sexually abused, but fail in the dissemination of  basic information within the women’s groups of each community.

This spring, our HCT program’s first module was on social development, where we deliver the topics of human rights, sexual and reproductive rights, and family planning among others. Religion and the church play an important role within rural communities and addressing these issues within our groups also represents a challenge, many of our participants consider it delicate to talk about sexual and reproductive rights or think that the time is not yet right to address these issues with their sons and daughters who are currently enrolled in primary school.

Elma (far left)

“What is the appropriate age to start talking about menstruation with my daughter? At school they told her about it and she began wearing a feminine napkin. She is still 10 years old and I feel that it is too early to talk to her about it. What can I do?”

Dina (Far left)

“I think that now is when we should begin to talk to our sons and daughters on this issue. Based on my experience at that age, as a teenager, my mother never talked to me about menstruation and the changes that I was going through.

The one who told me about this was my school teacher, a man, who was the first person who told me about the changes I was going to experience.  I don’t want my daughter to go through the same thing, I want her to be able to have confidence to speak with me, and I want to be the one to guide her when she begins this adolescent stage. I am very suspicious of people these days, we do not know if there may be someone on the street who gives them incorrect information or that they may risk being sexually abused or do not know how to act in the face of possible abuse.  Before the culture and context were different, now we are facing a fundamental moment that requires special care and attention for our children”.