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Doing My Part to Undo Inequality
Since I was a girl, I had a passion for understanding the health system and social inequalities. When I walked through the streets of Peru, I saw people asking for help and wondered why there was no one to care for them. As I got older, I decided to become a nurse. I wanted to be part of the health system and help people to live well.
During nursing school, I began to understand the ways laws and policies dictate our health systems, and the ways that governments don’t always get it right. When people are denied their rights, they must advocate to create change. That’s why I joined INPPARES.
INPPARES gave me the ability to be part of educational and advocacy campaigns for sexual and reproductive rights. I attended workshops and events where I learned how to speak fearlessly about sex, sexuality, gender, and equality. I talked about why it’s important to know and defend our rights, including making decisions about our bodies, living free from violence, and accessing health services without discrimination.
After becoming a nurse, I started traveling to the jungle to provide health care to people who might otherwise go without. I was driven by the desire to know what life was like so far away from a city, in areas so remote that health care is a luxury. I had been told that people’s lifestyles would be difficult to change, but the rumors were quite different from reality.
When I arrived in Barranquitas, the first people I attended to were those with emergencies, such as complications from self-induced abortions and adolescent childbirths. Being faced with these emergency cases caused me to emphasize preventative care and provide the community with information about sexual and reproductive health and rights.
I found that people had not only encountered many myths, but that the barriers to information and services they faced was a violation of their human rights. Living in rural areas should not be an obstacle to receiving health services and ensuring one’s well being. Although I could show you a lot of statistics, I prefer to give the situation a human face. My heart broke when a 19-year-old woman with two children told me the following:
I didn’t have the opportunity to study because school is for men and home life for women. That’s what my dad told me. My mother died when I was born, and I think if I had grown up with her, my life might be different. I want a better future for my daughter, a future without violence and sadness. I want her to be what I couldn’t.
Another girl said:
When I missed my period, I didn’t know what to do. I told my boyfriend, but he hit me then disappeared. My dad kicked me of the house, and my mom didn’t act the same with me. Someone recommended that I take some herbs. I began bleeding and had to go to the hospital. Luckily, they didn’t take me to jail. I didn’t want to do this, but I also didn’t want to be a mother yet.
This is what life is like for young women in Barranquitas, and as a young Peruvian woman myself, I feel compelled to be a part of changing this unjust reality. I find motivation in these heartbreaking stories, and the stories of many others I’ve met while working with INPPARES. I believe they deserve better that what they’re getting.
Erasing inequality is a long and difficult process, but we must be willing to invest what we can in order to create the changes we seek. When I was a girl, no one told me that I would be the one to care others someday. But I am here, doing my part to undo inequality.