Wendy Barerra is 22, studies law, and is passionate about sex-ed.
“We’re talking about rights, we’re talking about our bodies, we’re talking about something that is part of every stage of our lives.”
Wendy is part of a network of young people advocating for comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in El Salvador. The Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health, supported by Inter Pares’ local counterpart, La Colectiva Feminista, is working to ensure young people can access accurate and fulsome sex-ed through their schools and health services.
“Learning about CSE not only changed me professionally but also personally,” says Wendy. “It changed my relationship to my body because it gave me autonomy... I started to have more confidence.”
Advocates of CSE, like Wendy, want to reduce the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country. In recent years, one-third of pregnancies in El Salvador were to an adolescent mother – a figure further exacerbated by the pandemic. For many girls and young women, these pregnancies are often also associated with sexual violence.
In an effort to address this, El Salvador created a national sex-ed curriculum in 2009 – but its implementation is spotty at best. Many children and youth have yet to access CSE and even fewer teachers have received training on how to actually teach it.
But Colectiva is changing that by teaching educators like Roberto Flores Granados how to add CSE to their lesson plans.
“The training helped me a lot,” says Roberto. “It took away the mental barrier I had to talking about sexual health.”
Roberto recently held a CSE fair at his school where students discussed contraceptives, sexual diversity, healthy relations and self-esteem. Inspired by the changes he has made to his teaching, Roberto also joined a network that, with Colectiva’s support, advocates for getting CSE into more schools. The network brings together teachers, members of school boards, public health workers and more.
For Wendy, learning about sexuality free from prejudice is a right that she’s intent on seeing all her peers access.
“Everybody should be able to know about it – and know about themselves.”
The Youth Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health, supported by Inter Pares’ local counterpart, La Colectiva Feminista, is working to ensure young people can access accurate and fulsome sex-ed through their schools and health services.