Juan José Merê

Ashoka Fellow
Montevideo, Uruguay
Fellow Since 1994


This profile was prepared when Juan José Merê was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Juan José Meré is using the urgency generated by a life-threatening disease, AIDS, to undertake educational activities among young people that challenge and undermine the machismo mentality that dominates Latin American sexual relations. As he succeeds, he will not only stop the HIV virus in its tracks, he will expose the root cause of the centuries-long domination of women by men, first in Uruguay and then in the wider region.
Juan José's state-of-the-art AIDS prevention techniques–including attention-grabbing posters, pamphlets, TV and radio public service announcements and highly innovative workshops and counseling services–are creative and effective. But even more significant, the content of the discussion-group-based games and role playing fundamentally challenges the macho culture that young people grow up into. Those who participate in these sessions can never again accept machismo uncritically, and many are motivated to evangelize for a "health culture" that, as Juan José puts it, "invites open discussion of sexual attitudes and behavior, and encourages people to voice their fears and beliefs in a climate of acceptance and personal responsibility."
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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