02.05.2024 - von Plan International Switzerland

Natsumi’s Plan

Natsumi can talk openly about subjects that many adults – never mind her teenage friends – shy away from. Contraception methods, gender-based violence, reproductive rights and sexually transmitted diseases are topics this 16-year-old regularly discusses with ease.

The We Decide programme in Peru educates women and girls about their sexual health and rights to help prevent teen pregnancy. In the region where Natsumi lives, the rate of teenage pregnancies is one of the highest in the country. Here's how she wants to change this and Beat The Clock:

1. Learn about her sexual and reproductive rights.

2. Share that information with other teens

3. Advocate for adolescent-friendly health services.


"I could have been one of them"

Teenage pregnancy is another issue Natsumi often talks and hears about, because in the jungle region of Peru where she lives, the teen-pregnancy rate is among the highest in the country; one in five girls in Loreto is pregnant.

“People see children suffering, but few people do something about it,” she says. “I’m happy to be one of those people who want to generate a change. And it’s not just me. A lot of young people want to make a change in our society. We can all help someone else.”

Natsumi candidly admits that hearing about the problems teenagers in her community face shocks her. “I could have been one of them, but I had another kind of education,” she says. That education came, in part, from her participation in a programme where she learnt about her sexual and reproductive health and rights. She also developed the skills to converse candidly with her peers about contraception; safe, equal, caring and consensual relationships; and cultural expectations around masculinity. She also regularly advocates for teens with community leaders.

“When I talk with other teens, I hope they will share that information with even more teenagers,” she says.


Estimates say it will take more than 130 years for the world to achieve gender equality

but girls and women like Natsumi are promoting gender equality now, which will help to #BeatTheClock. 

  • The Peruvian Ministry of Health reported a significant increase in births to girls under age 10, almost tripling from nine in 2019 to 24 during the pandemic.
  • There were 1,149 births to girls under 14, highlighting the pressing issue of early pregnancies, according to Amnesty International’s Human Rights Report 2021/22.
  • This alarming rate of early pregnancy contributes to the pervasive problem of gender-based violence (GBV) in Peru. 
  • Between January 2009 and February 2022, the Femicide Registry of the Public Prosecutor’s Office identified 1,573 victims of femicide, more than half of whom were between the ages of 18 and 34. Shockingly, 190 victims were minors, representing 12.1% of the total number.
  • These distressing statistics underscore the urgent need for addressing GBV and protecting the sexual and reproduction health and rights (SRHR) of women and girls.

Natsumi became a peer-to-peer educator through her training in Plan International’s ‘We Decide: Reducing Adolescent Pregnancy in Loreto, Peru’ project.

  • In a province where girls as young as 12 become pregnant, the We Decide project has applied a multi-pronged approach to reach more than 95,000 people in Loreto.
  • The We Decide team works with communities and schools in two provinces and five districts.
  • The project hosts workshops, trains educators, publishes books, shares pamphlets, sponsors radio ads and records podcasts.
  • Plan International also works with parents, teachers, community leaders and health professionals to provide training and to build support networks.
Highlights from the project

based on a survey of 860 adolescents (50:50 women-to-men ratio):

  • At the start of the project, 44.1% of adolescent girls said they felt confident that they could refuse unwanted sex. At the close, 71.6% felt confident in saying no.
  • At the end of the project, 41.4% of girls felt they had adequate access to SRHR resources and services, compared with 25.3% when the project started. And 63.4% said they had used a condom the last time they had sexual intercourse, compared with 60.3% at the beginning. 
  • When first asked whether girls are equal to boys, 36.4% of girls said yes, versus 21.6% of boys. By the close, 80.9% of girls said they felt that girls were equal, and 80.9% of boys agreed
  • At the start of the project, 43.6% of girls and 54.2% of boys said it was never justifiable to hit a woman. At the close, 90.2% of girls and 91.2% of boys felt this way.