Guest post by Jocelyn Ban, Production and Design Officer at International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR).
Today, September 16th is Mexico’s Independence Day.
As millions around the world celebrate one of the most important days in Mexico, we recognize three heroes from Mexfam, the IPPF/WHR local Member Association in Mexico. These leaders work day-in and day-out to support the right of every individual in Mexico to make informed—and independent—decisions about their bodies, sex, and reproduction.
In a poor rural village outside of Oaxaca, Rosario (pictured) walks the dusty streets, stopping to talk with women as she makes her rounds. As the local health promoter, she counsels women on contraceptive options and provides supplies to ensure her neighbors can choose when and if they become pregnant. She refers women who need additional sexual and reproductive health care services to Mexfam clinics when necessary. Her neighbors see Rosario as a symbol of hope for a brighter future.
As the sun begins its climb over the streets of San Juan, Mexfam’s seven youth health promoters begin their day. They travel the streets of the small northern town near the Arizona border, providing sexual and reproductive health information to youth who have dropped out of school. In an area of Mexico with high rates of unwanted pregnancy, reaching vulnerable youth is critical: “What we are doing is making a difference,” says one health promoter. “That’s why we keep going.”
In a poor section of Iztapalapa, Mexfam volunteer Andrea, remembers when there wasn’t a reproductive health clinic in her neighborhood. It was then that her 14-year-old daughter delivered a baby without getting medical assistance from the government hospital. “She waited to see a doctor for four hours, having contractions,” Andrea says. “We were both scared. Finally we left and went to a midwife. I volunteer here because we need better service and better treatment if things are ever going to change for the better.”
Today reminds us that progress requires hard work and tremendous courage. Whether defending a country’s right to independence or defending sexual and reproductive rights for all, it is not a solitary endeavor.