From 18 to 20 November, ten of the twenty-six women’s and feminist organisations supported in the Latin American region met in Quito, Ecuador. They set themselves a goal: to collectively determine the path to take to defend sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Representatives of women’s and feminist organisations in all their diversity from Colombia, Guatemala and Ecuador came together at the call of CARE Ecuador and CARE Guatemala as part of the Feminists in Action initiative.

Picture of all women participating in the Abya Yala process in Quito.


In the Kuna language, an indigenous people living in Panama, Abya Yala means “the land in its fullness” or “bountiful land”. This term was adopted by several indigenous peoples to name their territories in the 1990s. 

Increasingly used and known, the expression Abya Yala was chosen to designate the meeting that took place. 

A few days before 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this event gave the opportunity to several women’s and feminist organisations to meet and launch a common dynamic. Here is the programme.


The two mornings were dedicated to “self-care”. Through music therapy and meditation, the participants (re)connected to their emotions, bodies and environment. It might seem trivial at first, but taking care of oneself is a political and feminist act. 

In a patriarchal society where women’s bodies are objectified, judged, violated, abused and discriminated against, taking care of them is also activism. Feminist struggles are also and above all about bodies, so taking care of them is essential.

The women present were then invited to reconstruct the history of their organisations’ advocacy and to reflect on their capacities, their posture and their successes in this field. The feedback from this work enabled all of them to better understand their own work and that of others, and to identify commonalities and strengths.

work feminist session during the Abya Yala meeting in Quito


After studying together different UN mechanisms that concern the protection and defence of women’s rights, the participants reflected as a group on the most relevant spaces of influence to invest at the international level. This reflection led them to define a collective objective: to participate in the next Montevideo Consensus conference on population and development in 2023.

Since 1954, major international conferences on development and population issues have been held at the UN every ten years. In 1994, a Plan of Action was adopted in Cairo, Egypt, at the fifth conference. A follow-up mechanism was set up until 2009. The following year, the UN General Assembly decided to plan regional conferences to strengthen the implementation of the Action Plan. For Latin America and the Caribbean, the first will take place in 2013 in Montevideo, Uruguay. This is the “Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development”. 

This agreement is considered one of the most advanced in the UN system. In particular, it recognises sexual and reproductive rights as an integral part of human rights and sexual health as an indisputable condition for the well-being of the population.

The exchanges, rich in enthusiasm, energy and sisterhood that took place during the Abya Yala meeting allowed the organisations present to set a common goal and to initiate a collective dynamic to defend their rights and those of all the women they represent. See you at Montévidéo+10!