The Tall Pines League is a group made up of the leaders in 12 communities formed a year ago to promote camaraderie between their villages and improve intrafamilial relationships.
Gavino, one of the leaders, explains, “We saw a lot of violence in the community, including domestic violence, and young people without recreational opportunities. We wanted to create opportunities to bring families together.”
The group decided that a soccer tournament would be a good start. The men, women, and children of the community enjoyed the experience playing and watching the matches, but when rainy season came along, the group looked for another activity to engage their communities and try to decrease the level of violence.
Although the majority of their group is made up by men, their conversations revealed that women’s health was an area that was being overlooked. By dedicating an activity specifically for women, the leaders hoped to emphasize a women’s worth in her family and her rights as a citizen. As a result, the leaders contacted WINGS and the organization came to give a talk about cervical cancer prevention.
At first, only the wives of the men in the League came to the talk to learn more about cervical cancer and to get tested for cervical abnormalities. To confront the taboo in the community that has prevented open discussion about sexual and reproductive health, the League had to intensify their actions to recruit women participants for the activity. Each League member committed to talking to at least five women before the next WINGS talk.
WINGS supported the group with information and materials and the League met with groups of women to explain a bit about cervical cancer. They purposefully used their native language, Kakchiquel, in their outreach to ensure that the women received the information in the language with which they are most comfortable.After vigorous recruiting work by the community leaders, the house was packed with women wanting cervical cancer screenings.As a result of their efforts, the WINGS’ team held an additional four cervical cancer prevention talks. At each talk, there were more than 50 women in attendance.
Roberto, another representative of the League, expressed his appreciation: “We feel very satisfied. We didn´t think that it would be like this because convincing people in this region can be difficult. We believe what we are doing is a service to the community because it has shown that the women deserve to be included and respected. We dared to worry about women’s health because no one else does, not even the government.”
We at WINGS are inspired by the Tall Pines League. The leaders of the League challenged taboos and traditional gender roles in their communities, all for the good of women’s health and cervical cancer prevention.Gavino, of the League, says, “I could say a thousand words to thank WINGS, but really I only need four: Thank you very much!”
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