Case Study: Movimiento Manuela Ramos

  on January 21, 2014


healthcommunication largeThis 6-page case study, published in 2005 as part of the Health Communication Partnership (HCP)'s Partners in Action series, profiles Movimiento Manuela Ramos (MMR), an organisation advocating for gender equity for Peru's women. Initiated in 1978 by a core group of 7 women involved in politics and organised labour, MMR works in the areas of health, sexual, economic, and political rights.

The case study, written by Ana Maria Yanez, examines MMR's evolution over the past 26 years, exploring how MMR has reached Peruvian women by mobilising Peru's rural, economically poor, and migrant communities; involving men in reproductive health (RH) issues; and promoting gender equity. When it initiated the ReproSalud project (with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development - USAID) in 1995, MMR grew from a 40-person operation to an organisation with 250 full-time staff.

As part of this project, MMR worked in 91 districts in 8 regions with teams that spoke both Quechua and Aymara. "The project reached 250,000 women and 120,000 men over the last decade. And its training program led to 200,000 new trainers." This case study looks at how MMR managed this rapid growth and also how it faced the broader challenge of promoting RH and women's rights in a rural setting.

This resource explores the ways in which women's participation in identifying and addressing their own health-related and other needs and rights has been central to MMR's success. At its inception, MMR conducted an assessment of living conditions for women living in economically poor settlements to better understand their interests and concerns. MMR then held a number of participatory assessments, including 3 workshops with migrant women, to determine where it would focus its efforts.

MMR chose Health Promoters and Legal Advisors from the women who participated in these workshops. The Health Promoters developed health education and promotional activities for women, also working with local organisations and the community on preventive health and women's rights issues.

One of the issues that emerged from the assessment process was the lack of quality health services for women in the southern part of Lima; MMR responded by establishing a community consulting centre for women’s health, which primarily offered sexual and reproductive health services from 1989 to 1997.

With Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) support, MMR built Casa del Bien-Estar (Well-being House) in 1997 to provide women in that area with RH and other (e.g., legal) services; the centre's staff (11 Health Promoters, one doctor, one midwife, and one dentist) now provides health services to 10,000 women a year.

MMR has also drawn on mass media, including:

  • Radio - "P?same la Voz" (Let me know) allowed women to express their thoughts and become familiar with their neighbours' thinking, while "Prohibido Escuchar" (Forbidden to listen) allowed youth to express their doubts and ask about relevant topics. As part of ReproSalud, MMR introduced 3 radio serials: "Evelyn, una mujer como tu" (Evelyn, a woman just like you), which covered issues related to pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery; "Manuela te quiero" (I love you Manuela), which provided information about sexuality and the body; and "Las Micaelas de hoy" (Today's Micaelas, referring to Micaela Bastidas, a Peruvian heroine), which covered contraception. "All three were based on community surveys and data collected related to the topics, which made them more credible, and gave them a cross-cultural perspective."
  • Television - MMR's "Barra de Mujeres" (Women's Forum) is an effort to help shape opinions on women's rights and to establish a platform to denounce any attempts to curtail women's rights.

This resource also examines some of the barriers and challenges that MMR has faced, suggesting strategies and lessons learned. For example, when the organisation began its work, "rural women considered reproductive and sexual health extremely private issues and were embarrassed to discuss them openly. MMR overcame this barrier by helping women realize the commonality of their reproductive health issues. MMR convinced them that open discussion could help define solutions that could be used to make necessary changes in the health care delivery system. MMR also had to deal with men's objections to ReproSalud. Men did not approve of some of the project's issues and they doubted the women's ability to meet the project's demands. But once men saw the women in their lives taking control and implementing the project, they decided to help out too and began working in the capacity workshops."

MMR has also encountered conservative opposition. "MMR publicly agreed to not be involved in any activities to change Peru's abortion laws as a condition of its ReproSalud contract. MMR also clashed several times with Peru's conservative ruling party. In one instance, a former Minister of Health objected to some of the content in Barra de Mujeres, and asked the U.S. to stop funding this activity through USAID. MMR managed this controversy by publicly presenting evidence of the program's public health benefits. Criticism and controversy attracted public attention and provided an opportunity for MMR to promote its programs to an even wider audience. The public rallied behind MMR, rejecting calls for censorship of information with a public health benefit."


"This case study demonstrates the value of including health communication to help sustain quality reproductive health services despite major policy changes both in Peru and internationally." It explores some key strategies for addressing challenges that a growing organisation, operating in a relatively conservative rural context, might face. To that end, the concise resource might help guide health communicators seeking to address women's sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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Source: Health Communication Partnership

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January 21, 2014
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