Ipas works to prevent sexual violence and unintended adolescent pregnancy in Latin America

Friday, October 9, 2015

Girls in Bolivia

International Day of the Girl, recognized on October 11, calls for a movement toward gender equity by investing in and empowering girls. Ipas programs in Bolivia, Mexico and Central America are making this investment through initiatives to end sexual violence against adolescent girls—and to empower them to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

“Adolescent girls are disproportionately affected by sexual violence,” explains Ipas Youth Advisor Cecilia Espinoza. “Health programs for adolescents therefore must include services to prevent sexual violence and provide care to those affected by it. This includes access to contraception, emergency contraception and safe abortion.”

In Bolivia, Ipas is supporting the government’s initiative to reduce adolescent pregnancy by training public health-care professionals at designated youth-friendly health centers on how to provide the full range of contraceptive methods to young people. In partnership with young leaders, Ipas is also working to provide young people with the knowledge they need to obtain contraceptive services at these facilities.

In Mexico, Ipas works with the health system to reduce barriers young people face to accessing sexual and reproductive health services—especially contraception and safe abortion. Training health-care personnel on the laws and policies that govern this care for adolescents helps providers to understand their obligations, decreases myths and stigma around these issues, and reduces the number of young people who are discriminated against or turned away.

In Nicaragua, Ipas is working with peer educators and young advocates to educate their communities about how to prevent adolescent pregnancy, violence against women, and sexual abuse of young people. This work involves supporting the youth-led organization “Youth who believe in other youth” and their efforts to combat sexual abuse through training workshops with teachers, students, parents and the media (watch a short video about the group’s success). Ipas has also conducted research on the impact of pregnancy resulting from rape of girls and adolescents in the country; results are published in the report “Between silence and impunity: Forced motherhood has the face of a girl in Nicaragua.”

On International Day of the Girl, Ipas calls on policymakers, health-care providers and advocates for women’s health and rights to recognize that prevention of sexual violence and access to contraception and safe abortion care are crucial to ensuring girls’ autonomy and equality—a key goal in the newly announced 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Ipas’s work in Latin America will contribute to the fulfillment of the 2030 agenda, which calls on governments to guarantee young people access to sexual and reproductive health services that are youth-friendly, nonjudgmental and confidential,” Espinoza says.

Learn more about Ipas’s work with youth.