CAMY Fund visits grantees in Hoduras.

Recently the CAMY Fund participated in a state-level forum organized by GOJoven Honduras for their project aimed at legalizing Emergency Contraception in Honduras. As we have reported in prior blog posts, the purchase, use and dissemination of Emergency Contraception was restricted in 2009 by a Ministerial Decree emitted by the Ministry of Health. In 2012 the Supreme Court ratified this prohibition. Since then, organizations have individually and collectively been working to make it legal and accessible again.

For their current project, led by 20 year-old Angela Rovelo, GOJoven Honduras is carrying out a series of state- and regional-level forums around the country. In these forums they are bringing together youth members from the Platform for Sexual and Reproductive Rights – also coordinated by GOJoven in collaboration with Plan International Honduras – with local authorities. During the forums GOJoven Honduras facilitators provide information about Emergency Contraception, which to some people is completely unknown, and encourage the development of local-level advocacy plans. The forums have proven to be important spaces for garnering support among decision-makers that could potentially influence the Ministry of Health at the national level.

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Angela in an interview with local press.

For example, at a forum in May in San Pedro Sula, a representative from the Health Department committed to organizing a meeting with the Minister of Health so that young people could present the case for making EC available again. At this same forum, the CAMY Fund Program Officer, Wendy Aguilar, gave a presentation on the implications of Zika on sexual and reproductive health.

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Wendy Aguilar, CAMY Fund Program Officer gave a presentation on the implications of Zika for sexual and reproductive health.

At the forum in late July that the CAMY Fund attended, 12 youth leaders from the Platform were joined by representatives from the local Health Department, the municipal government and the municipal women’s office. Once again, the forum raised awareness around EC among the young people and local authorities and inspired them to commit to actions to make EC available once again.

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In the GOJoven Honduras forum in July.

Besides the forums, GOJoven Honduras will be collaborating with the CAMY Fund media consultant to carry out a public awareness raising campaign as part of their project using the hashtags, #SíALasPAE and #PorqueAmoElegir.

GOJoven’s activities complement the centralized high-level advocacy efforts being carried out by the Strategic Group to Decriminalize EC, of which they are an active member. In late July the CAMY Fund’s Honduran Program Officer, Wendy Aguilar, provided the Strategic Group with a workshop to strengthen their advocacy strategy. In addition to the workshop, the CAMY Fund’s media consultant, Gerardo Torres Zelaya, facilitated a meeting to develop the Group’s communication strategy.

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Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM) is another CAMY Fund grantee in Honduras. Their project is coordinated by 23 year-old Grecia Lozano. Over the last several months they have built a national platform called Somos Muchas, with the intention of promoting the decriminalization of abortion for three indications in the country’s new penal code. Their demand for decriminalization may seem modest but considering that currently abortion is completely illegal, these indications would represent an important advancement for women who have become pregnant as a result of rape, women whose life is at risk due to the pregnancy or in cases of fetal abnormalities incompatible with life.

The first Somos Muchas press conference.

CDM and the Somos Muchas platform have been working with the CAMY Fund media consultant to hone their messages aimed at the media and public officials based on the arguments that 1) changing the current penal code restrictions around abortion forms part of the construction of a modern State and 2) the complete criminalization of abortion as it stands puts thousands of women’s lives and health at risk by sending them into clandestine circumstances for unsafe abortions. Recent results from a public opinion survey carried out at CDM’s behest by a prestigious local firm reveal that an overwhelming majority (between 52% and 69% depending on the indication) of Hondurans believe that women should have access to abortion in these three circumstances. The results also indicate that 83% of Hondurans know someone who has had an abortion, demonstrating that criminalization does not make abortion less likely to occur, only more dangerous.

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The second Somos Muchas press conference.

The CAMY Fund is also funding another member of the Somos Muchas platform, Centro de Estudios de la Mujer – Honduras (CEM-H), in order to bring young women’s voices into the debate to decriminalize abortion. CEM-H, under the leadership of Sara Tome, is working with young women from four marginalized neighborhoods in Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa, to train them in messaging and advocacy and to develop local, youth-oriented publicity campaigns. This work is especially important because the above cited study showed that younger women and women with the least amount of education and from the poorest levels of society held the most conservative views on women’s right to abortion.

The CAMY Fund is proud to be supporting the work of these incredible project leaders in such solid, and strategic organizations in Honduras. We look forward to continuing to work together for reproductive rights into the future.