Opportunity for Paraguayan youth to demand policies on sexuality and health

Today, the youth of Paraguay have the opportunity to take the new president’s words to heart and demand access to a comprehensive educational curriculum on sexuality and health.

Mirta Ruíz Díaz reports from Paraguay:

New president of Paraguay Horacio Cartes says the country’s youth will not have to wait for change and they should “maintain a healthy level of rebellion and kick up a fuss” if he does not live up to their expectations.

During his inaugural speech on 15 August, Cartes promised to wage war on poverty and to guarantee equal opportunities for every man and woman in terms of access to healthcare, education and work. He also referred to the lack of opportunities for young people, who are the drivers of change in a country rich in natural resources like water, clean energy, and fertile soils, and one in which all that is needed to improve the quality of life of the citizens is to adjust economic policies.

Today, the youth of Paraguay have the opportunity to take the president’s words to heart and move from words to actions, demanding public policies that will give them access to a comprehensive educational curriculum on sexuality and health. These demands should address the issues of high rates of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, and abortion-related deaths.

Access to comprehensive sexual health education is a pending issue for the state that cannot be postponed. It’s also one that will no doubt face huge challenges from a legislative body whose members are for the most part conservative and fundamentalist when it comes to sexuality and sexual health, including human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed (LGBTI) communities.

Activists must join forces

Cartes gave a conciliatory speech, full of hope, like all inaugural speeches, and has filled his cabinet with the people best suited to the various roles, regardless of their party politics. All of this creates high expectations, particularly within communities which have historically had limited opportunities in terms of their access to comprehensive healthcare, education and work.

However, the president openly demonstrated his opposition to the sexually diverse community during his candidature. It is crucially important that all social movements and activists join forces to keep an eye on this new governmental process and carry forward a political advocacy plan. We must lobby for the rights to healthcare, to education and work opportunities that answer to the real needs of the LGBTI population and of the young men and women of Paraguay, and we must move from words to action.

Some of us involved in non-governmental organisations have been putting together an agenda for collective work in political lobbying and advocacy, which will seek to guarantee a response to HIV, protection of the human rights of LGBTI people and comprehensive sexual health education. Let there be no doubt about it: we will maintain a healthy level of rebellion, and we will make a fuss.

Originally published on Corresponsales Clave

Translated by Jennifer Stanley Smith