In Guatemala, teen pregnancy is at epidemic levels:
- Guatemala has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Latin America.
- 50% of Guatemalan girls will have a child before the age of 20, and 20% or more of Guatemalan girls will have 2 children before the age of 18.
- In Guatemala in 2014, roughly 71,000 girls under the age of 19 became pregnant, from that percentage 5,119 were girls under the age 14.
- Less than 40% of sexually active women aged 15–19 use a contraceptive method.
At SERniña, we believe access to sexual and reproductive health education and resources is key to creating global change and empowering whole communities. In this blog, we list the Top 10 Reasons Why We Must Prioritize Sexual and Reproductive Health.
1. To lower poverty rates
If a family has fewer children, and more years between each child, the more they will invest in each child’s food, health and education. When couples choose to practice ‘family planning’ by applying safe sexual and reproductive health practices, they ensure that each of their children has a better chance at success. This allows their children to create better lives for themselves, get a better education, and seek better employment. Thus they are able to advance the financial situations for their family, and generation by generation, finally break the cycle of poverty.
2. To save lives
The direct benefits of meeting the need for contraception and for maternal and newborn healthcare include:
- Two-thirds fewer unintended pregnancies
- 70 percent reduction in maternal deaths
- 44 percent decrease in the death of newborn babies
- Unsafe abortions would decline by 73 per cent (from 20 million to 5.5 million (assuming no change in abortion laws)
- The number of women with abortion complications requiring medical attention would fall from 8.5 million to 2.3 million
3. To improve access to education
By choosing to have fewer, or more spaced-out children, families can ensure each child receives an adequate education, as well as the emotional, mental and physical support they need to be successful. Also, with more controlled and limited populations, governments of developing countries can also ensure they are offering a higher quality public education, and promoting attendance by all children.
4. To empower women in their homes and in the workforce
In Guatemala, the average number of children desired by women is 2, however the average number of child per woman is 3.1 and 3.7 in indigenous communities. This is often due to lack of access or knowledge of family planning information and contraceptive options.
Access to sexual and reproductive health information and services offers women the means to control their own bodies and to decide whether and when to have children. Women’s ability to control their fertility can create opportunities for increasing their skills and participating in the workforce or other activities outside the home.
When women are able to seek out employment and their own income, they are better able to advocate for themselves, and their children, in their homes and ensure that their well-being is respected.
5. To promote gender equality
For gender equality to be achieved, women must be able to make free and informed choices about their bodies, including sexual and reproductive health. Having the right to make decisions and to access information and services free of discrimination regarding their bodies, their relationships, and the bearing of children is fundamental to women’s equality and well-being.
Access to sexual and reproductive health services can create opportunities to challenge gender norms that underlie harsh violations of women’s human rights, including violence, discrimination, coercive sex, ‘honor’ crimes, crimes of passion, early marriage and other harmful practices.
6. To strengthen healthcare systems
Training healthcare providers in a rights-based approach, as done so with sexual and reproductive healthcare, can have a positive effect on the quality of care in general. Similarly, improved skills in counselling, which is central to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare, can have an impact in other areas. Likewise, investments in basic and emergency obstetric care can bolster the quality of care and help providers deliver other services more effectively.
Also, with more controlled populations, there is less burden on the quantity of care needed for communities, and more focus, and investment, can be put into the quality of care provided for each patient.
7. To ensure environmental stability.
8. To protect our human rights.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have both clearly indicated that women’s right to health includes their sexual and reproductive health. This means that States have obligations to respect, protect and fulfill rights related to women’s sexual and reproductive health.
The World Health Organization defines reproductive rights as follows: "Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence.”
9. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
Though many goals are associated with the importance of Sexual and Reproductive Health, two goals (and associated targets) are directly linked to access to sexual and reproductive health education and resources:
10. To lower rates of sexual activity and pregnancy among teenagers.
Students who received abstinence-only programs were shown not to demonstrate any change in their likelihood of delaying sexual activity, and they demonstrated a marked increase in the decision to participate in unsafe sex as only 23% of sexually active teens who received abstinence only programs reported using a condom.
Some people say that teaching kids about contraception encourages them to have sex, but that’s patently false. According to research led by the Guttmacher Institute, "teens who had received instruction on both abstinence and birth control were older at first sex than their peers who had received no formal instruction and were more likely to have used condoms or other contraceptives at first sex; they also had healthier partnerships."
- A donation of $35 covers the cost of 1 student to receive a full year empowerment pack (including personalized journal and workbook, art supplies, and a program t-shirt).
- Just $150 covers a FULL scholarship for 1 student to fully participate in our YEAR-LONG Empowerment Program including all costs associated with Facilitator Stipends, Personalized Materials and Educational Resources
- Duvvury, N., & Oxhorn, P. (2017.). Understanding the Links Between Sexual and Reproductive Health Status and Poverty Reduction (Rep.). Institute for the Study of International Development.
- UNFPA (2010). Sexual and Reproductive Health for All: Reducing poverty, advancing development and protecting human rights (Rep.). United Nations Populations Fund.
- B., Dockolova, Lau, K., Barclay, H., & Marshall, A. (n.d.). Sustainable Development Goals and Family Planning 2020 (Rep.). The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) .
- Statistics. (2013, December 26). Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/guatemala_statistics.html
- (Kirby, 2007; Kohler et al., 2008; Lin & Santelli, 2008; Trenholm et al., 2007).