One year ago this week, 33 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean came together for the first intergovernmental conference on population and development in the region. Convened in Montevideo, Uruguay, by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the conference gathered government delegates and advocates to assess progress and challenges in implementing the action plan agreed to at the groundbreaking International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo in 1994. Together, governments and advocates identified ways to further implement the Cairo “Programme of Action,” and tackle emerging challenges to population and development in the region.
The International Women’s Health Coalition, along with Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN) and RESURJ, supported 27 young activists from 13 countries to participate in an Advocacy in Practice (AiP) workshop to prepare them to advocate with their governments at the ECLAC conference. And advocates’ hard work and preparation really paid off. The outcome document from that meeting, known as the Montevideo Consensus, emerged as one of the most forward-looking documents on sexual and reproductive rights ever agreed to at any diplomatic negotiation.
The story, however, did not end there. There was still much work to be done to ensure the progressive document translated into concrete gains both at the national and local level. To do that, the role of civil society was key, not only to ensure the dissemination of the document but also to guarantee that governments honored the commitments they made in Montevideo.
With funding from the Summit Foundation, IWHC awarded small grants to several of the AiP participants to do follow-up advocacy work in their countries. One year after the landmark conference, we caught up with some of the activists to see how they have remained involved in the process and continue to hold their governments accountable for advancing adolescent sexual and reproductive health, comprehensive sexuality education, women’s empowerment, and gender equality.
This week, Akimbo will feature profiles on a few of these women. We are happy to report we found them just as engaged and committed. Stay tuned for our first profile tomorrow.