I began working at International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/ WHR) as a program associate for gender-based violence programs in 2003, when I was 26. We were one of the first to create a comprehensive response to violence within the health system. The next challenge I took on at IPPF/ WHR was advocating for safe and legal abortion in a region with some of the strictest laws in the world. Not only did we increase abortion access by expanding the interpretation of dormant laws, we were also one of the few providers of legal abortion services and one of the few organizations training public health workers to do the same. As Regional Director, I will build on our holistic approach to systemic change and work toward fuller diversity and representation.
I was born in the Argentina in 1976 during the “Dirty War,” a period of state-sponsored violence that lasted nearly ten years. During university, I learned that people often lose their voice and their agency while living under oppressive political regimes; that even when the terror finally comes to an end, people still remember what it is like to be silenced. It was there where I began to understand the power and promise of social activism. Thus began my quest to help those who are oppressed.
As an organization, IPPF/WHR has taken on some of the hardest fights. From safe and legal abortion and promoting equality for all to acceptance of sexuality and gender diversity and advocating for sex workers rights, we work on areas that many shy away from. While we have made real progress in many of these areas, the reality is that this work has been isolating. We are now finding new ways of making our issues relevant by striving to ensure equality and human rights at every intersection.
When Latin America and the Caribbean were classified as middle income, international cooperation funds were re-directed to other regions. However, the middle income classification masks the estimated 66 million people living in extreme poverty. These are the individuals we seek to serve. The challenge is ensuring our local partners are sustainable, financially stable and truly independent organizations that are robust enough to subsidize and expand services to those who need them most.
I hope to integrate our services and advocacy efforts in a way that informs and guides our presence on the ground to serve socially excluded groups facing the implications of multiple inequalities. Next I hope to expand the magnitude of change by transforming power dynamics in the formulation and implementation of health-related policy and services. My long term vision is to define our success by our contribution to genuine societal change at the intersection of human rights, health, and gender.