Jurema Pinto Werneck
Fellow Since 1991
This profile was prepared when Jurema Pinto Werneck was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1991.
The New Idea
Jurema is building a model care and support center, as well as a national awareness movement, based on the problems and effects she is documenting while working with five groups of women in the Baixada Fluminense, a densely populated, poor peripheral district of Rio de Janeiro. Jurema listens to the women's reasons for using sterilization as a form of contraception when other methods are widely available, and observes the psychological and other consequences of their decisions. She is also persuading other medical health services to gather similar information and data on sterilized women so that sterilization's reputation as the simplest and safest form of birth control can be countered with hard evidence. From this work, she has seen a need for a specialized health center for women in the Baixada Fluminense. This center will provide the contraceptive and preventive health information that so many poor women never get, as well as offer supportive therapy for those psychologically pained by their sterilization. Jurema wants to complement this center with a national awareness-raising campaign. To do this, she has set up the Rio de Janeiro Forum Against Mass Sterilization. The Rio Forum directs the attention of over 30 groups, including black movement groups, women's groups, and state councils, to the problem and involves these groups in coordinated action. Jurema is already helping start other forums in Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul; together, these state forums will act as a network for information and action.