In Peru, life for the 77 percent of people who live in urban areas is starkly different from that of people in rural areas, where many of Peru’s indigenous groups reside. Education is unequal — less than half of poor women have completed fifth grade, while nearly all of the country's wealthiest women have done so.
Despite better facilities in wealthier areas, reproductive health care problems remain a serious issue for all women in Peru, particularly poor rural women, who face a one in 73 chance of dying from maternal causes. Peru's poorest women have a fertility rate nearly three-and-a-half times that of wealthier women. The poorest women will have, on average, nearly four births per lifetime, and one in 17 teens (ages 15-19) give birth each year.
Since abortion is only permitted if the health or life of the woman is endangered, many women are forced to seek unsafe abortions, often in unhygienic settings, leaving them susceptible to hemorrhaging, infection, or death.
Planned Parenthood Global in Peru
The work of Planned Parenthood Global (PP Global) in Peru relies on strong partnerships with several local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Our work focuses on expanding access to sexual and reproductive health services and information and advocating for policies and laws that protect the reproductive rights of all Peruvians — but especially those of marginalized populations.
Pilar, a wife and mother of three, lives in a remote river community along the banks of one of the tributaries to the Amazon. The nearest health center is accessible only by boat, but Pilar receives her contraceptive shots from a neighbor trained by a Planned Parenthood Global-supported program to ensure rural access to family planning.
Empowering the Next Generation
PP Global supports the Centro Obstétrico Mujer Sana (COMS), which provides sexual and reproductive health services in Cuzco. COMS uses Planned Parenthood Global’s Youth Peer Provider model to train young people, empowering them to distribute health information and provide contraceptives to their friends and classmates, and offer referrals to local clinics. This peer-to-peer model circumvents the stigma and barriers to sexual and reproductive health services for teens.
Dolly is a 19-year-old college freshman in Cuzco and a Youth Peer Provider (YPP) trained by COMS. She keeps a supply of condoms, pills, and other contraceptives at home and in her backpack and distributes them to a growing caseload of clients, who include college classmates and a teenager from rural Peru who rents a room from her parents so she can attend high school in the city. As a YPP, Dolly provides services and information in a low-pressure and trustworthy environment that many of her clients may not feel comfortable seeking elsewhere. In countries where talking to young people about sex remains taboo, YPPs like Dolly help other young people delay pregnancy, stay healthy, and stay in school.
Advancing Reproductive Rights in Peru
In its advocacy work in Peru, Planned Parenthood Global supports PROMSEX, a feminist NGO that advocates for public policies and legislation that recognize, respect, promote, and guarantee sexual and reproductive rights as human rights. The high incidence of unsafe abortion and maternal death and disability in Peru provides impetus for the work of PROMSEX, which works for greater community involvement in the development of such policies, and a greater awareness within the community of policy changes related to reproductive health and rights.
PROMSEX has also been at the forefront of the debate surrounding the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) ruling that Peru must decriminalize abortions in the cases of rape and sexual assault, and ensure the availability of those safe abortions. PROMSEX, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, brought the case to the UN, and continues to advocate for this human rights violation to be addressed.