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Hilaria Supa Huamán to Receive 2024 Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health

Hilaria Supa Huamán, Director of Mosoq Pakari Sumaq Kawsay (New Dawn for Good Living) Healing Center, is a Peruvian politician and human rights activist. She will receive the 2024 Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health for her lifelong dedication in advocating for the rights and well-being of Indigenous women in Peru, most notably in her fierce work against the forced sterilization that took place in the late 20 th century. The award ceremony will be held on March 13, 2024. The event will be hybrid with the in-person portion held in the Ann L. Roy Auditorium in Fagin Hall.

January 30, 2024

“Hilaria Supa Huamán embodies the true spirit of the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Health,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel. “Her advocacy and activism with and for poor and indigenous women in Peru have advanced the fight against forced sterilization—and she provides care to those affected. She has worked tirelessly to elevate the education rights and culture of the communities. Penn Nursing is proud to recognize and honor Hilaria’s quest for justice.”

“This award recognizes the fight of sterilized Quechua women for justice and respect. We women in Anta [Cusco] have been fighting for our rights for forty years. This fight became more important after the forced sterilizations,” said Supa Huamán. “With this award, we will continue to help affected women heal, and to pass on knowledge about medicine, midwifery, and rights that will keep our people safe for generations to come. We are honored to receive the Renfield Foundation Award.”

Supa Huamán is a beacon of light for the rights of Indigenous women in Peru. She has been successful in creating dialogues both at a grassroots level, among the communities affected by these issues, and at the policy level, pushing for reform as a Peruvian congresswoman. Supa Huamán’s work has not only shone a light on the history of forced sterilizations, but also ensured that victims receive the support they need, both in terms of healing and justice. A significant embodiment of Supa Huamán’s work is the Mosoq Pakari Sumaq Kawsay (New Dawn for Good Living) Healing Center.

Founded under her guidance, this healing center bridges modern healthcare and indigenous healing practices. It serves as a sanctuary for those affected by forced sterilization. Supa Huamán’s activism extends beyond working against forced sterilization. She has worked on improving the overall health and well-being of Indigenous communities in Peru, tackling a range of issues from maternal health to traditional healing practices, and ensuring that the concerns of Indigenous communities are represented and addressed at national forums.

The Renfield Award will help Supa offer mobile mental health, biomedical, and ancestral medical services in all 13 provinces and 114 districts of Cusco State, aiming to serve as many of the 10,000 sterilized women as possible. Her future plans also include opening the center’s doors to serve pregnant Indigenous women, build climate resilience, make international connections with organizations like the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, and form alliances with Indigenous healing centers.

During the forced sterilizations of the 1990s, the Peruvian government persecuted Indigenous midwives to encourage hospital births. Yet, recent research shows that Indigenous women still experience obstetric violence, often being subjected to unnecessary Cesarean sections. Supa intends to combat obstetric violence by expanding the center to include a traditional midwifery program, blending Quechua and biomedical practices. She also understands the interconnection between the health of Indigenous women and the health of the land. Climate change threatens this balance, and the center is gearing up to support water harvesting and organic farming initiatives.

“Ms. Huaman’s unwavering dedication to advocating for women who have experienced unjust sterilization is commendable. She serves as a powerful voice, shedding light on the injustices faced by countless indigenous women. Ms. Huaman’s commitment to raising awareness and effecting policy change underscores the need for more individuals like her,” said Monique Howard, EdD, MPH, Senior Director, Women’s Health Initiatives in Penn Nursing’s Center for Global Women’s Health. “Her efforts are instrumental in bringing attention to these grave atrocities, creating space for conversations, and driving transformative change. I extend my sincere congratulations to Ms. Huaman and commend her for her tireless work. I look forward to hearing Ms. Huaman discuss her impactful work, as she provides valuable insights that contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding women’s health and reproductive rights.”

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