Changing the Tide in the Region
When 19-year-old Adrianna became pregnant, she didn’t understand what had happened. “My boyfriend said he was taking care of himself,” she explains. Adrianna, who lives in the Victor Gonzales squatter settlement in El Callao, Peru, with her 11-month-old son and five other relatives, hadn’t received any sexuality education. She knew what a condom was, but not how to use it. “I would have liked the school to teach girls about sexuality, how to protect ourselves, avoid infections, and avoid surprises later,” she says.
The rate of teen pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean is one of the highest in the world, just below sub-Saharan Africa. In our region, nearly 40% of women become pregnant before age 20 and almost 20% of births are to teens.
Evidence shows that comprehensive sexuality education programs can help young people prevent unintended pregnancies while supporting healthy sexual development and well-being. That’s why we invest in these programs. Comprehensive sexuality education not only provides young people with accurate information about their rights and their bodies, it also empowers them to build respectful relationships and make their own decisions.
Yet even in Latin America and the Caribbean—where sexuality education remains out of reach for many young people—there is hope. Our strong network of experienced advocates and Member Associations will not retreat until all young people have access to comprehensive sexuality education. Recently, our Member Associations have played a key role in two notable wins: Costa Rica adopted a national sexuality education program for the first time in history and Guatemala began a similar program in nine regions of the country.
These victories are part of a changing political tide in the region, but more work needs to be done to ensure that all individuals can access basic and necessary health services and information.