Juana Esther Barajas Vásquez

Juana Esther Barajas Vásquez - 2016 Nominee
Position: Program and Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator
Organization: Asociación Tan Ux'il
Since age 19, Esther has increased family planning access & education for thousands of rural indigenous adolescents in Guatemala by implementing a youth peer distribution program, youth leadership institute and government capacity-building program. – Esther Tahrir, Founder and Director at GOJoven International
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

For over 6 years I have coordinated the Health Program and Leadership TAN Ux'il running projects Strengthening Services care for adolescent and the Campaign "Let's Talk Seriously Education without Mysteries" through replication differentiated service model developed by TAN Ux'il in partnership with San Benito Hospital for opening and sustainability of the Juvenile Care Clinic (only in Peten and the second at national level) that offer differentiated clinical services for adolescents. With mass communication strategies as Invading Your Break-ITR, Radio and Peer Education; identifying, training and strengthening leadership skills in sexual and reproductive health of adolescents and youth mainly in the northern region of Guatemala.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

At 13 years, some girlfriends became pregnant due to lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education and contraceptive methods . Truncating their life plans , placing them in a precarious situation and limited to make decisions about their own lives. I decided I should do something to change this and that young women had a chance to a better quality of life , in training processes in sexual and reproductive health I discovered that ensuring access to education and services can create change.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

"Lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education and services for adolescents differentiated services." We create interagency partnerships with Ministry of Health, civil organizations and local government, to reduce the gap to access FP services, TAN Ux'il born to generate accessibility and PF EIS through a network of youth advocates community leaders. We do local and national advocacy to ensure a legal framework to guarantee this access.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Guatemala, a country of Latin America with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal death, 1 in 5 children in the country is the son of a teenager, mostly the result of sexual violence. Only by educating and providing access to services you can build a different reality, for which the government should prioritize access to family planning and comprehensive sex education through health and education ministry together with civil organizations.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Consolidate the work of the organization to reach more rural areas and create a training center for Sexual and Reproductive Health and generate employment for young leaders of Peten. Incido Initiative for Youth Law as law can include comprehensive sexuality education and access to contraceptive methods, work for women (girls, adolescents and young) can have a comprehensive development and decide on their lives. You can not talk about development of a country on teenage pregnancy.

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