Building alliances in Latin America
By Sara Gómez
Elige Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos A.C. is a civil society organization and diverse network of feminist youth working to advance sexual and reproductive rights and promote the political participation of youth in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. They made a commitment with FP2030 in 2021 with the hopes of strengthening their own partnerships to advocate for sexual and reproductive rights at a critical moment.
Ms. Vásquez Vázquez described critical changes marked by the pandemic that made their work more difficult. Shifts in funding and energy to battle the pandemic pulled the spotlight away from the advances that they were gaining in sexual and reproductive health and a shift to virtual processes made advocacy efforts much more difficult.
“Prior to the pandemic we had a large migrant mobilization. In Central America, the Venezuelan mobilization and these are things that continued after the pandemic, there was a social explosion in Colombia….
[During the pandemic] everything was readjusted to what was happening at the time, and it only widened the gaps we already had in inequality and access to sexual and reproductive rights.”
I see a difference between the advocacy spaces that occurred before the pandemic and those that occurred afterwards. Before the pandemic we already had a lot of social mobilizations in the region that were noticing that we were in a crisis, right? And that led to the exit of many of the funding and donors from the region.
Valeria Vásquez Vázquez
Executive Director, Elige Red de Jóvenes por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos A.C.
“When they told us about the creation of their [FP2030] regional office, the truth is that we thought we could have one more ally to be able to guarantee advocacy. Being able to have the capacity to dialogue with the United Nations agencies, with governments and with civil society…
When I heard Family Planning, I said: oh, what is this? But when they explained it to me in a phone call, that’s when we clicked, oh yes! These are the same issues we are working on. Let’s push ourselves in the region. Then, in addition, it seems to me that the second click we had was that they knew many people in the movement in the region, and that gives confidence – as ah! they are allies – we know that they are working with the rest. Then the third thing was that they could promote visibility of what was happening in the region in the world. Well, to know that LAC is still going through a lot of difficulties and that we need important alliances.
And I think the last thing was that they involved governments as a little bit of ‘Oh, here is the conversation!’ ‘Look, these are the commitments.’ And how could we get those governments to join us through civil society, being the bridge…
So that was one of the things that most attracted our attention about the Partnership and also, to commit ourselves is not so complicated because they were activities that we already knew we could carry out and it was like adding to an alliance with our own work”.