The global adolescent pregnancy rate is estimated at 46 births per 1,000 girls, while adolescent pregnancy rates in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be the second highest in the world, estimated at 66.5 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa. In Brazil, the national adolescent pregnancy rate is higher than the regional average, standing at 68.4, and being significantly higher among adolescent girls who live in vulnerable communities, including Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, where CEPIA operates.
Brazil has experienced an alarming rise in femicides and violence against women since 2018. The country currently has one of the highest femicide rates in Latin America, with approximately 40% of gender-based killings in the region taking place within its borders. Women living in poverty, and those who belong to racial minorities, are among the most vulnerable to femicide and other forms of gender-based violence. Emerging evidence from COVID-19 impacts suggests that significant risks of violence against women have increased, especially in countries with weak health systems, weak rule of law, and already high levels of violence against women and gender inequality, such as Brazil. Data from the first two months of confinement measures (March-April 2020) point to a 22% increase in femicide and a 27% increase in complaints to the national violence against women helpline, when compared to the same period of 2019.
In spite of alarmingly high levels of adolescent pregnancy and a rise in violence against women, and amid a spike in sexually transmitted infections among young people, the Brazilian government has declared war on sexuality education. President Bolsonaro, who took office in January 2019, supports federal legislation that limits sexuality education in classrooms. Since 2017, more than eight Brazilian cities have passed restrictive laws at the local level. Despite several attempts, Rio de Janeiro has rejected such laws, but teachers continue to be poorly trained and as a result, students fail to access adequate sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services.
Pan American Health Organization, Accelerating progress toward the reduction of adolescent pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The number of new HIV cases each year in 15 to 24-year-old men has increased more than tenfold over the past decade. Studies have shown condom use is decreasing in general among that age group, and among men who have sex with men in particular. Syphilis, too, is skyrocketing, with new yearly cases among all Brazilians more than tripling since 2014.
CEPIA was founded in 1990 in Rio de Janeiro by Jacqueline Pitanguy, a sociologist and former president of Brazil’s National Council on Women’s Rights, and Leila Linhares, a lawyer and former Research Director of the Brazilian Lawyers Bar. CEPIA contributes to the strengthening of democracy, social justice and gender equality with the goals of: a) eradicating social inequalities based on gender, race/ethnicity; b) expanding knowledge of sexual and reproductive rights and access to related facilities and services by women and young people; c) fighting gender-based violence and expanding and democratizing access to justice for women and young people. CEPIA led the advocacy efforts on the Law on Domestic Violence against Women, which resulted in the Maria da Penha Law, passed in 2006 (and continues to monitor its implementation in a joint effort with security and justice institutions), as well as the Law on Femicide, passed in 2015. Brazil’s Minister of Women’s, Family and Human Rights, Damara Alves, a conservative evangelical pastor, recently attacked Jacqueline Pitanguy, describing her as a “defender of death” for supporting and advocating in favor of abortion.
EMpower’s fifth grant to CEPIA will help 140 students aged 13 and 17 (150 female and 90 male) strengthen their life skills and knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights –including gender equality– as a means to address the persistently high rates of adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and gender-based violence among Brazilian youth. CEPIA will train 50 teachers/education officials and 12 youth promoters, launch a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy, and work in partnership with three public schools in some of Rio de Janeiro’s most vulnerable communities. The grant will also help CEPIA strengthen its fundraising capacity.
Primary Location: Rio de Janeiro
Funded Since: 2016
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