EPES 2008 Report

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Santiago, Chile

Strengthening of the Health Organization in the Community of Hualpen, Chile

This project focuses the development of women's capabilities in health leadership from a perspective of gender rights through education, consultation, and support of community-based health promotion efforts.  The target group is 50 women of the Hualpen community in Chile.  The project offers consultation at the meetings of the "Zenobia Cerda Zapata" (ZCZ) group, in the formulation and evaluation of work plans, and support of the ZCZ activities through workshops.

The project has seen several achievements.  They have created a space for reflection on the vulnerability of sexual and reproductive rights and about the unfair distribution of the emergency contraceptive pill among different socio-economic groups.  They have updated a health course to revitalize and motivate the women's group.  There is a vision for a public space for women's rights to live free of violence and in good health.  In addition, there is a renewed ability to publish information including through the ZCZ group's magazine addressing issues such as commemoration of the Tenth Anniversary of ZCZ, the basic health course, emergency contraceptives, the no-violence against women campaign, and workshops on sexuality, health and nutrition rights, and mental health, plus other news.

Despite the achievements, challenges still remain.  There is a great demand from the ZCZ group to meet educational needs along with other needs like recreation, fellowship, and training in areas that would help them earn a living.  The women in the project are at a stage in their personal and familial lives that require rest, sharing, and peer support which motivates them for educational/informative work.  The transition in leadership to younger members has been slow because most of them are focused on child-rearing.

Along those lines, it is a challenge to keep the group committed and to develop new leadership, in part because of the fear of commitment and responsibilities, lack of leadership, and personal economic pressures.  EPES has to help the group reinforce their commitment to the plans.  It has also been a challenge to link with other like-minded organizations and institutions that work in the same area.

The plans for the future of the project include hosting dialogues on human rights, exchanges with other local organizations working for the protection of health rights, and workshops on leadership, self-esteem, human relationships, and communication.  They also plan to include additional communities. 

In reflecting on the work of the group in 2008, the ZCZ coordinator commented, "In general, the course seemed very important, clear, entertaining.  The brainstorming of ideas is good for overcoming doubts and testing our knowledge.  It was important for the younger women, because they saw something new for their lives.  It was meaningful to share with each other and to see what each could bring.  What I liked the most was to have a day for ourselves, where, in addition to learning, we shared something about our personal lives.  I suggest that next year we should have a time every two weeks to reflect on such interesting subjects for the women."

 


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