Throughout much of Latin America motherhood is more destiny than decision for many young women despite limited abilities to care for a child.
Vera Cordeiro, Founder and General Superintendant of Associação Saude Criança, gives details of the situation in Brazil that spans throughout many places in Latin America about the inherent beliefs of motherhood:
Cordeiro says, “…in the favelas of Brazil the identity of motherhood is status–a ‘destination’ sought by teenage girls who view the opportunity to have a baby as a validation of their esteem even though they are unprepared to raise a child.
Favelas can be violent places to live. The rules are often different in places affected by abject poverty. And for young girls, pregnancy is often viewed as ‘protective’ in ways that outsiders may not understand. As it was explained to me, having a baby by a leader in the community associates that girl with a powerful man. That identity can protect her as her child will be recognized as belonging to the leader. This is the destination sought by many young girls.” (La Vie Childfree blogpost: Making Motherhood a Choice in Brazil.)
The Aconchego Project
While this debilitating mindset and incumbent social gridlock are prevalent, efforts are being made to combat the underlying challenges. Associação Saúde Criança was founded in 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to help “poor families by providing help in the areas of education, health, income, housing, and citizenship” (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination). In 2005 the organization launched a major initiative called “Aconchego Teen” targeting teenage women and birth rates.
“Aconchego Teen,” which means coziness, a place for warmth and security, is designed as a public square in which teenage girls receive education regarding motherhood and pregnancy. The objective was to change the embedded view in poor teenagers that suggests motherhood is a destination instead of a personal choice. (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.)
The Aconchego Project, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, spans an average of two years for each adolescent and emphasizes other interests and perspectives so that the rate of teen pregnancy decreases (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination).
The project seems to be a success with teen pregnancy in Brazil dropping by 34.6% between 2000 and 2010 according to Brazil’s Health Ministry.
So far, over 200 teenagers have participated in Aconchego Teen and the feedback from both parents and teenagers is strongly positive. Not only has the project helped teens understand the difficulties of motherhood but it has also paved the way for a better communication and understanding with their parents. We encourage teens to stay in school and prepare themselves for the labor market. That way, they will experience motherhood when [and if] they are ready to embrace the joys of having a child. (Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.)
Read the full article here: Vera Cordeiro: Making Motherhood a Choice, Not a Destination.
Follow Vera Cordeiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@saudecrianca