I’m a 24 year old psychologist from the Central University of Venezuela, and I work as an SRHR activist for Family Planning Venezuela (PLAFAM). I often get asked, “What exactly is your work about?” Well, in addition to sending and receiving a lot of emails every day, talking about sex and sexuality and remembering a lot of acronyms, I like to see my daily work as part of ongoing contributions towards realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice.
Looking back: Everything first started from a dissatisfaction I had with the sexuality education curriculum in my high school—as many of you can imagine—it was all about biology, myths, and shame. At that time, I didn’t know that I could actually do something about it. It was only when I got into college and when I started volunteering with PLAFAM, that I had the opportunity to speak up and be recognized as an advocate regardless of my age. The opportunity to hear what other young people had to say, and learn about the realities of many poor people and youth living in rural areas, made me more aware of my own privilege and made me realize that in a lot of cases, even volunteering can be a luxury.
Since 2013, I have been involved in activism for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) at different levels of engagement, from local initiatives related to peer Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), to regional actions connecting youth from all over the Americas and the Caribbean, and creating enabling structures to share best practices among youth advocates and highlight the work they are doing for SRHR in their communities. This is what I love to do and I’m so grateful that I can dedicate my professional life to it.
I firmly believe that Sexual and Reproductive Rights are fundamental when we talk about development. These rights are one of the most intimate things we have, they relate to our own autonomy. If people are not comfortable in their own skin, how can we expect a full exercise of citizenship? That is why I’m such a passionate activist when it comes to addressing these issues from a rights-based approach, because it takes sex and sexuality out of the bedrooms and addresses the politics of it.
Looking forward: I see a lot of challenges; the Sexual and Reproductive Rights movement has had a lot of successes, but it is also going through some challenging times right now. I think that in order to look and move forward we, as advocates, should recognize that social challenges do not come in silos. We cannot address sexual rights in a comprehensive way without considering poverty and its structural causes, access to education, or water and sanitation services. Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Justice is about recognizing that these are not isolated situations, but part of a bigger picture: a society that faces huge challenges on equality, human rights, and justice.
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