This Women’s History Month, we welcome female leadership in Honduras and are speaking up against forced sterilisation, we say no to discrimination and stigma says Ligia Destephen
The republic of Honduras has a historical debt towards women. Despite that, it is the women who are largely subjected to unequal treatment. Similarly, the lack of favourable policies has been a major challenge for women in the country.
Honduras is the only country in Latin America that explicitly prohibits Emergency Contraception. It penalizes abortion completely on a constitutional level and integral sexual education is missing from the system. However, this is only one of many issues that women face in the country.
Restrictions like these affect all women, particularly those part of vulnerable groups that have been historically marginalized. For instance, in Honduras women with disabilities and women with HIV are forcibly sterilised. This demonstrates the double standard of authorities as well as healthcare professionals that provide these services to people.
Despite this grim picture, today’s Honduras is progressive. The country has a woman’s face not just because women are the majority of the population, but also because for the first time, a woman has been elected the president of the country. Xiomara Castro’s appointment has strengthened her vision of social justice and transparency and has paved the way for many other women leaders to flourish in high positions in the country.
After the coup d’état in 2009, this difficult change came with many challenges. Before that, the country lived a dictatorship marked by corruption and violence against women and girls.
With the new president elected, Honduran feminists are now feeling hopeful. We feel that a change is on the way. Alongside that, the fight that the feminist movement has given and will continue to give women in Honduras courage.
We believe that in a few years, we will enjoy many opportunities and rights that women have been denied. The present is hopeful and progressive. For future generations, we will be leaving behind a country where young women and girls can live full lives. They will have a reference of a woman in the highest decision making role in the country.
This International Women’s Day, we celebrated this historical conquest in Honduras. We remembered all those women who made it possible for us to be here today. This well-deserved win has returned hope to the population, and particularly to the thousands of women that feel represented by the only presidential candidate to publicly agree to be committed to women’s rights.
However, we acknowledge this to be just one big step and not the final one. We know that women in Honduras still face conservative institutions in the government and macho, violent and corrupt society. It’s true that there are new people taking up key positions in the government. While some are moving forward to work on agendas like Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), there are still others who are conservative and against women’s rights.
Honduras has new faces and more young women are leading decision making spaces. Their leadership is key to fueling the advocacy actions of the feminist movement. This way, young women in Honduras will keep pressuring the authorities into hearing issues of women, women with disabilities, those living with HIV, young LGBTQI women, women affected by displacement or migrants.
This Women’s History Month we are speaking up against forced sterilisation and saying no to discrimination and stigma. We are speaking for female leadership in Honduras in all sectors. We say yes to opportunities, to access quality medications, and we say yes to SRHR and planned pregnancies. In Honduras, we will continue to fight for women’s rights including access to sexual health and reproductive rights.
Feature Photo by Héctor Emilio Gonzalez on Unsplash