While teaching high school English and social studies in the town of Barú, Enseña por Colombia alumna Mariana Sanz de Santamaría noticed that some of her students missed class when they had their period. When she asked them about it, her students expressed feelings of shame and confusion about menstruation—it was a subject nobody talked about. Mariana recognized that early pregnancy and sexual violence were also common occurances in the community, and that these subjects too were rarely discussed. Determined to break the silence, Mariana began talking to a handful of her students about menstrual hygiene and sexual and reproductive health, safety, and rights. These conversations continued and grew, as the students asked Mariana to share more information, and invited their friends to join. It soon became clear to Mariana that what her students - and young women and men across Colombia - needed was comprehensive sexual education, which was not part of the national curriculum. And so Poderosas (Powerful), a non-profit organization dedicated to comprehensive sexual education in marginalized communities in Colombia, was born.
In the video above, Mariana shares her journey to launching Poderosas, and explains the organization's mission to strengthen the decision-making power of young people around their sexual and reproductive health and rights.