Eighty indigenous people from 25 communities attended the workshops, which used a participatory methodology adapted for indigenous contexts.
80 people, 75% of whom were female, attended the two workshops, then they replicated the workshops in 16 communities. The workshops led to the reestablishment of the relationship between Gualalcay and a nearby health center. In the last 6 months, 108 girls and women have been served by this health center.
Estimated girls & women affected
The 16 workshop replicas happened in communities that have 500 inhabitants each. Half of these inhabitants are women, and about half of the women in each of these communities ended up benefitting, due to the increased social acceptability of condom-use and the resulting epidemiological benefits—which extend beyond just those who started using condoms.
Estimated community members affected
One year ago, you supported sexual and reproductive health education, with a particular focus on HIV prevention, for indigenous women and youth in the rural Azuay and Cañar Provinces of Ecuador. Since October, our staff members have facilitated two training workshops in Gualalcay. Eighty indigenous people from 25 communities attended the workshops, which used a participatory methodology adapted for indigenous contexts. Participants reflected on their experiences; learned about self-care and prevention behaviors like condom use; and discussed the possibilities and challenges of broaching these topics with community authorities. Sixty-five percent of the participants went on to replicate the workshops back home, holding a forum on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention in each of the 16 communities, and reaching an additional 400 people.
It was an important accomplishment that 65% of the participants were able to replicate the workshops, and can in turn train others to do the same. Also, following the workshops, the community of Gualalcay connected with a health center in a neighboring town. Medical staff from the center now visit Gualalcay’s community center every two weeks to perform checkups for women and children. Over the last six months, they have seen around 156 people. This is a vital step in assuring that the women and children of Gualalcay and its surrounding communities receive the health care that they need.
Inés, an 18 year old participant, said “I realized that without knowing how to take control of one’s decisions, it’s possible to make life-altering mistakes.” Inés’s boyfriend had been pressuring her to have sex, and her peers told her she was infertile. Finally, she said she would have sex, but only with a condom. Upset, her boyfriend told her that she must have learned about this in the workshops. “We broke up… Now I look at myself, and I’m going to college, on the path to a career.”
Risks and challenges
Because of systemic power imbalances between men and women, women often have less say in community decisions. Although 65% percent of participants held replica workshops, 35% did not. The women in these nine communities did not have the support of local authorities, the majority of whom are men. We now know that working directly with local authorities—who are often gatekeepers with the power to “okay” or veto activities—to help them see the need for sexual health education is crucial. In Gualalcay, male leaders, who believed that condom education makes girls “easy,” were opposed, but female leaders and pur staff worked to win their support. There are other communities where this kind of effort is needed to make positive changes.
What we’ve learned
Coordinating with community leaders– particularly the women leaders—was essential to the change process. However, we did not have the funds to establish follow-up and monitoring mechanisms. In the future, we will try to secure more funding to continue to supporting youth and women in their advocacy efforts. We aim to set up a youth committee in charge of organizing awareness-raising events periodically to continue replicating the HIV prevention workshops, so that more youths are empowered to protect themselves and stay safe. It would also be of critical importance to measure the impact of all the awareness-raising efforts on HIV infections and adolescent pregnancy a year from now and beyond.
Our next step is to meet with community leaders and workshop participants to devise a collaborative and participatory follow-up to the project. We want to continue identifying indigenous women and youth who are leaders in their communities, or who have leadership potential, and to continue training them in outreach and sexual health promotion, so that the change they have already begun to make will not only last, but spread.
Amount spent so far
Booking of training location
Food for 70 women
Travel for 70 women
Working to empower indigenous youth in Ecuador
FCI/Ecuador held planning meetings with kichwa-cañari indigenous women leaders from the Gualalcay community, in the Ecuatorian province of Azuay. Partners agreed on the following activities:
1) A first workshop with kichwa-cañari indigenous youth and women will take place on Friday, October 4 to present the project to a broader group and plan activities around HIV prevention among indigenous youth in the Gualalcay community;
2) A participatory one-day workshop to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS will take place on October 17 with kichwa-cañari youth in the community high-school. Youth from other communities will also be invited. The objective is to sensitize and train a group of leaders so that the work shops can be replicated by peers in the community.
Risks and challenges
So far, we have not encountered any challenges. We have support from the leaders of the women organization we are working with in the community. This project builds on previous work with the community, and we don't anticipate challenges or opposition.
After suffering from a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the leader of the indigenous women's organization in the Gualalcay community, decided to focus the organization's efforts on raising awareness among women, particularly young women, in the community, where there is a high-rate of STIs, about what STIs are, their symptoms, and available resources. Because of this personal experience, part of the work has focused on empowering women to confront their partners, seek treatment and speak openly about using condoms. The leader has also made sure that there is an open and fluid relationship between women in the community and health providers.
1) Workshop with kichwa-cañari indigenous youth and women will take place on Friday, October 4 to present the project to a broader group and plan activities around HIV prevention among indigenous youth in the Gualalcay community;
2) A participatory one-day workshop to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS will take place on October 17 with kichwa-cañari youth in the community high-school. Youth from other communities will also be invited.
3) After the project, replication of workshop by peers.
We have spent$200 so far.
Amount spent so far
Rental of training location
Food for 70 indigenous youths
Travel for 70 indigenous youths
Young people in Ecuador’s indigenous communities need to understand their reproductive rights and health, so they can stay safe and healthy.
Why we care: Reproductive health-related conditions are the leading cause of death for young women in Ecuador.
How we're solving this: Bringing together 70 young people from indigenous communities in Azuay and Cañar Provinces for a workshop on HIV prevention.
In remote parts of Ecuador, women and young people often face discrimination based on their gender, their ethnicity, or their poverty, and many have little or no access to information about their reproductive health, including HIV/AIDS. The impact of this is alarming, and often tragic:
- More and more women are becoming infected with HIV — the portion of women in Ecuador’s HIV+ population grew from under 15% in 1999 to one-third by 2006.
- In indigenous communities, only 3% of the women use condoms, and one in three girls is a mother by the time she reaches age 19.
- Reproductive health-related conditions are the leading cause of death for young women in Ecuador, accounting for fully half of all deaths among this vulnerable population.
Family Care International (FCI) works in indigenous communities, in close partnership with grassroots organizations, to raise young people’s awareness about their reproductive health and about their rights. In the last three years, FCI and our partners have reached more than 3,000 young people, across five provinces, with critical information about how to protect themselves from HIV infection. We have seen firsthand the power of education to increase young people’s utilization of vital health services, to prevent the spread of the HIV epidemic, and to protect young lives.
To broaden the impact of this important work, FCI will bring together 70 young people from indigenous communities in Azuay and Cañar Provinces for a workshop on HIV prevention. This workshop will include training on correctly using condoms (and negotiating their use with a sexual partner), recognizing and opposing discrimination, understanding and standing up for reproductive rights, and treating people with HIV and AIDS with dignity and respect.
When you make a donation, your contribution will be used to cover the costs of bringing these young people to the workshop, producing training materials, and organizing the event. This project will equip young women and men with the knowledge they need to make sure they live long and healthy lives free from HIV.