Comparison: Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas and Our Bodies, Ourselves

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas” (2000)
“Our Bodies, Ourselves” (1998)

Throughout the cultural adaptation process, the “Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas” editorial team tried to identify foundational principles guiding Our Bodies Ourselves. We asked each other, OBOS founders, and our regional collaborators: “What makes it possible to translate a transformative feminist health text so learning inspires women’s empowered connections to social movements across cultural borders, sociopolitical contexts and evolving historical times?”

This comparison shows how we understood these organizing principles, highlighting key cultural differences. ​

-Ester R. Shapiro, PhD (aka Ester Rebeca Shapiro Rok)
Associate Professor, Psychology Department
Research Associate, Mauricio Gaston Latino Institute
University of Massachusetts, Boston
May 2014

This comparison also appears in “Translating Latin American/U.S. Latina Frameworks and Methods in Gender and Health Equity: Linking Women’s Health Education and Participatory Social Change,” an article by Ester Shapiro that was published in the International Quarterly of Community Health Education (2013-2014).


 Frameworks Linking Personal/Political

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
• Ayuda mutua (mutual help) relational model
• Balance care for others / care for self
• Participatory education principles
• Spirituality fundamental to health

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
• Self-help individualistic model
• Self-care is an individual right
• Feminist consciousness raising
• Does not include religion and spirituality

How Each Book Begins

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Section I: Saber es Poder (Knowledge is Power)
Ch 1: International
• Bringing knowledge from the South to the North
• Feminism redefined: gender and social justice
• Health care re-defined: only 10 percent of health outcomes associated with medical system

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Section I: Taking Care of Ourselves (Section V: Knowledge is Power ends the book)
Ch 1: Body Image
• Begins with body image visualization

Health Systems

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Ch 2: Health Systems
• Emphasizes community based care
• Patient bill of rights Consorcio Mujer, Peru: patient/provider rights and responsibilities
• Health information: emphasizes participatory health education, community outreach

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Ch 25: Health Systems
• Emphasizes U.S. health care system
• Patient bill of rights by George Annas; uses legal and academic language
• Health information: emphasizes text and library

Organizing for Change

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Ch 3: Organizing for Change
• Talleres/workshops use participatory ed model
• Uses position paper from Catholics for Choice

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Ch 26: Organizing for Change
• Consciousness raising groups model
• Religion primarily associated with anti-choice

Taking Care of Ourselves

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Section II: Cuidandonos (Taking Care)
• Begins with Salud Integral/Holistic Health
• Re-introduces religion and spirituality
• Meditation re-defined as “ways to pray”
• Violence seen on a continuum, in relationships of mutuality/equality or abuses of power

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Section I: Taking Care of Ourselves
• Begins with Body Image chapter
• Holistic health emphasizes pragmatic techniques
• Meditation taught without cultural/spiritual context

Relationships and Sexuality

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Section III: Relaciones y Sexualidad
• Mutuality in a broad range of relationships
• Emphasizes interdependence & dialogue in building relationships and communities

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Section II: Relationships and Sexuality
• Relationships with men the focus of chapter; no discussion of extended family

Reproductive Health & Rights

“Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas”
Section IV: Salud y Derechos Reproductivos/ Reproductive Health and Rights
• Framework focuses on UN definition of reproductive rights as basic human rights
• Abortion chapter emphasizes legalization campaigns
• Abortion decisions emphasize sacredness of all life
• AIDS chapter emphasizes women’s vulnerability in cultural acceptance of double standard

“Our Bodies, Ourselves”
Section III: Sexual Health & Controlling Our Fertility
• Focus on individual decision making
• Abortion choice is a legal right under privacy laws
• AIDS chapter focus on identity politics & privacy