Right to Decide: Católicas Por El Derecho A Decidir

As the winds of change in South America shift toward leftist, self-proclaimed “progressive” governments, the political and social reality for women becomes more regressive. Nowhere is this more evident than in Argentina, where abortion is illegal and access to contraceptives and reproductive health is severely limited in many areas.

 

A woman spray paints the word "mujeres" ("women") on the street

It is against this backdrop that Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Córdoba (CDD-Córdoba) successfully forges on in its efforts to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Launched in 1994, CDD was the brainchild of three fearless women who were collaborating on a book about sexuality and maternity among Catholic women. From this, their mission became clear: “to make sexual education, family planning, contraception and legal abortion accessible.”

Wisely leveraging financial and human resources, CDD is the primary network providing education, leadership development, publications and workshops to women wherever they are; in secondary schools, parishes or women’s organizations. It is also the only network with a primary commitment to abortion rights.

The journey to sexual and reproductive liberation has been slowed by backlash from conservative governments and the Catholic Church. In 2004, CDD had to defend itself against baseless charges that stated the group had no funds of its own and it was working against the Argentina constitution.

In 2005 the group embarked on its most ambitious initiative — the national “Campaign for Safe, Legal and Free Abortion.” And in 2006, women and men across the country gathered in front of health ministries demanding that women’s health be a priority. Their rallying cry: “No more women dead from back alley abortions in Argentina.”

While there have been some small successes to decriminalize abortion, the reform is highly controversial. Recent legislation says that the woman will not be punished when the abortion occurs in the first trimester, as long as the “circumstances make it excusable.” Such caveats make the code ambiguous and easy to override. For opponents, even small gains go too far. The Church condemned the new code when announced and President Kirchner distanced himself from the reforms. Women now find themselves targets of a campaign to criminalize women’s rights in general.

Yet, thanks to CDD, Argentinean women will not be silenced — the movement thrives.

“The Global Fund has been, since our beginning, the support that enabled our existence as a group, and with that support we have come to recognize and position ourselves in our society as an organization fighting for sexual and reproductive rights from within our Catholic identity.” — CDD-Córdoba

Key Information

Year and stage of Global Fund investment in Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Córdoba:

1995
$4,000 seed grant.
1996
$8,000 for strengthening national network.
1997
$12,000 to secure long-term funding support.
1998
$25,000 two-year grant for capacity building and consolidation with Buenos Aires CDD.
2002
$8,000 to sustain workshops for young poor women (because of economic crisis & decreased institutional funding).
2004
$5,000 to build legal defense against charges brought by Inspector of Legal entities.
2005
$40,000 two-year grant ($20k/year) to embark on national campaign to legalize and decriminalize abortion; generate long-term national and international funding.
2007
$50,000 three-year grant ($20k, $15k, $15k) to strengthen national campaign to legalize and decriminalize abortion; women’s leadership; capacity building.
2008
$5,000 to attend 11th Association of Women’s Rights in Development Forum, Cape Town, South Africa.

Funds committed to Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir – Córdoba: $157,000

 
 

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