Raising awareness of Covid-19 by breaking down language barriers

Information is powerful.

Having access to COVID-19 health information and being able to comprehend it is just as powerful and is, unfortunately, lacking in some rural areas in Mexico. With the help of 5 translators, information about health and services regarding the pandemic is being supported in cooperation with UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces for Women and Girls programme in Mexico and the University of Guadalajara. Information is therefore translated in an effort for indigenous women as well as girls in Jalisco's capital of Guadalajara to have access to and understand current pandemic health information and regulations. Not only is health information being communicated but also the prevention of violence. During the pandemic, domestic violence, femicide and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence have increased -- this is seen with a 50% increase of emergency calls to helplines within Mexico.

It is imperative for health information and prevention of violence to be spread in not only Spanish but other native languages as 40% of the people in Jalisco do not speak Spanish.

With this initiative, the UN Woman Safe Cities programme created information in the five indigenous languages of Hñähñu, Mixteco, Purépecha, Mazahua, and Mahua. This information included prevention of COVID-19, measures to stay healthy as well as prevention to gender-based violence. The translated information was disseminated via radio to roughly 57,000 indigenous people.

Pictured above is Gabriela Juárez Piña, Head of the Intercultural Health Program of the Indigenous Community Unit of the University of Guadalajara. Photo Credit: UN Women/Coordination of Extension and Social Action UDG

Piña stated "... It was necessary to rework the message in Spanish for each of the indigenous languages so that it was not aggressive. Telling women who were unable to go out to work or suffer from violence at home to simply ‘stay home’, could have been offensive."

Piña went on the elaborate, “...the radio and loud speakers campaign had a major impact in Guadalajara. We saw a decline in COVID-19 cases. As part of our work with UN Women to mitigate the effect of the pandemic, we identified mothers in need and delivered cleaning and hygiene kits as well as food supplies.".

If you wish to follow the story, more information to be found on this topic can be found on UNWomen.org


'Our voices are being heard': Indigenous women in MEXICO break down language barriers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. (2021, February 24). Retrieved February 26, 2021, from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2021/2/feature-indigenous-women-in-mexico-break-down-language-barriers-to-respond-to-covid-19

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