CategoriesAfNHI

Empowering Youth: Integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health Education as Gender-Based Violence Prevention

Introduction 

Empowering youth is not just a noble goal; it’s a responsibility we all share in creating a better, more inclusive society. One powerful way to achieve this is by integrating comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education into the lives of young people, while also promoting gender-based violence (GBV) prevention. In this article, I’ll share my inspiring journey of taking proactive steps to make this vision a reality by engaging community and religious leaders, as well as law enforcement agencies. These efforts have led to a commitment that can change lives.

Advocacy Journey: September 4th to 7th

Screenshot 2023 11 17 at 10.36.43The journey towards empowering youth and promoting SRH education as a means of GBV prevention started with an advocacy visit.  During this period, our advocate connected with vital stakeholders within the community, including Community Leaders, Religious Leaders, and the Lagos State Police Force. Their commitment was instrumental in driving this initiative forward.

Community Leaders: Community leaders are the bedrock of our neighborhoods. Their endorsement and commitment to promoting SRH education and GBV prevention within their communities can significantly impact the acceptance and implementation of these vital programs. They understand the unique needs of their communities and can help tailor the messaging accordingly.

Religious Leaders: The influence of religious leaders on the beliefs and practices of their congregations is profound. Engaging with them was a strategic move, as it allowed for the dissemination of these crucial topics within the moral and ethical teachings of the community. Their commitment was instrumental in reaching a wider audience.

Lagos State Police Force: Law enforcement agencies play a pivotal role in addressing and preventing GBV. Collaborating with the police force is crucial in ensuring the safety of young people and providing effective support to GBV survivors.

Outcome of the Advocacy Visit: Community leaders expressed their commitment to support the initiative by allowing access to community spaces for educational workshops, providing resources, and encouraging community members to participate actively.

 Religious leaders expressed their commitment to incorporating SRH education and GBV prevention into their teachings, creating a bridge between faith and knowledge. The Lagos State Police Force committed to providing training for officers on how to handle GBV cases sensitively and efficiently, as well as supporting the initiative by raising awareness about SRH education and GBV prevention among the youth.

Preparation: September 20th and 21st

After securing the support and commitment of these key stakeholders, our advocate shifted focus to gather and organize informational materials, pamphlets, and brochures. These materials were designed to provide straightforward and actionable information about SRH and GBV prevention, along with highlighting the support services offered by the NGO or CSO involved in the initiative.

Informational Materials: Sorting materials that are easy to understand and act upon is critical. These materials cover a wide range of topics, including safe sex practices, consent, reproductive health, and the consequences of GBV. They are designed to resonate with the needs and understanding of young people.

Pamphlets and Brochures: These concise materials are like roadmaps to knowledge and action. They can be distributed in schools, community centers, and religious institutions, making sure the information reaches a diverse audience. These materials serve as both education tools and sources of reference for those seeking help or information.

Support Services: Equally important is making sure young people know where to turn for guidance, counseling, and assistance if they experience or witness GBV. By providing this information, the initiative ensures that young people have access to the help they need when they need it.

Conclusion

Empowering youth through comprehensive SRH education and GBV prevention is a journey filled with hope and positive change. The commitment gained from community and religious leaders, as well as the support of the police force, is a testament to the collective effort to create a safer and more equitable future.

By integrating SRH education and GBV prevention into the lives of young people, we are equipping them with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions, foster healthy relationships, and contribute to a safer and more equitable society. This advocacy journey isn’t just inspiring; it’s actionable. It shows how individuals and organizations can drive change in their communities, one commitment at a time, ultimately making a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Together, we can empower youth and build a better tomorrow.

Omolayo Ogunyemi Cecilia

AfNHi Youth Mentee 2023

CategoriesAfNHI

Kenya National Pre-UN High-Level Meeting Civil Society Consultation

The Kenya National Pre-UN High-Level Meeting Civil Society Consultation, held on September 12, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, was a significant gathering that focused on the global priority of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). With Kenya facing persistent health challenges, including TB ,Malaria ,and HIV/AIDS, the consultation aimed to refine health priorities, strategize for post-UN HLM 2023 engagement, and enhance awareness of human rights and gender concerns. The primary objective was to establish a clear position on inclusivity and the ongoing implementation of UHC, while also creating a framework for holding leaders accountable for the meeting’s decisions and directives.

Opening Remarks

Screenshot 2023 11 17 at 10.33.29Kenya AIDS NGOs Consortium (KANCO) Executive Director,Allan Ragi, opened the engagement with an acknowledgment of the progress made in the battle against TB and other health-related issues. He shared some insights about the changing landscape of HIV/AIDS in line with Tuberculosis infections while also citing a previous lack of addressing TB-related issues in the early years due to negligible funding. Nonetheless, he acknowledged the progress that has taken place over the years, including increasing donor funding and programmatic support from Kenyan authorities, including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Kenyatta Hospital, and the Health Committee at the Council of Governors (COG). These initiatives have seen the growth of the TB champions movement, with a focus on issues such as drug-resistant TB. At the same time, he emphasized that everyone should aim to make a difference, reminding everyone that ‘you never get it unless you ask for it or identify the issue.’ The emphasis was placed on collective responsibility and collaboration towards making a substantial impact in the health sector.

Overview of High-Level Meeting Processes and Updates

Evaline Kibuchi  The Chief National Coordinator at Stop TB Kenya delivered a comprehensive presentation that detailed the extensive preparations for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) scheduled for September 2023. The presentation emphasized the significant progress and developments that have taken place since the initial TB HLM in 2018. 

During the presentation, there was a thorough exploration of the organization and themes of the HLM, highlighting a shared global commitment to two key priorities: expanding Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and strengthening efforts related to Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (PPPR). This indicates a global consensus on the importance of these critical health objectives as part of the UN HLM’s agenda.

Achievements and Commitments

The consultation celebrated Kenya’s noteworthy achievements in reducing new infections and TB-related mortalities from 33,000 in 2019 to 21,000 by 2021, along with its significant progression out of the high MDR-TB countries category. The outlined provisions of the Political Declaration reiterated a commitment to ensuring an all-encompassing, equitable, and people-centered approach in TB responses nationwide.

Inputs from Consultative Meeting with Key Populations

The Consultative Meeting with Key Populations resulted in the presentation of valuable insights, emphasizing the need for more comprehensive and diversified strategies to ensure the continued effective implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Key populations stressed the importance of addressing specific concerns related to the Lesbians,Bisexuals, Transgender, Queer, Intersex & Gender Non Conforming (LBTQIGNC) communities, along with other vulnerable groups, to ensure their equitable access to health resources and protection. These contributions highlighted the significance of promoting transparency and accountability in national health initiatives, ultimately enhancing the resilience and responsiveness of healthcare systems.

After a thorough review of existing National Health and Human Rights Policies, an assessment of Community-Led Responses, an examination of societal enablers, and an evaluation of external support and investments, the following key action points were identified;

  • Acknowledging diverse perspectives within Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
  • Advocating for legal reforms to support Key Populations and the LBTQIGNC communities.
  • Documenting achievements to shape evidence-based policies.
  • Promoting community-driven initiatives for healthcare ownership.
  • CSOs monitoring and allocating funds effectively.

These key action points serve as the foundation for a more inclusive and equitable approach to healthcare delivery and policy formulation, ultimately enhancing the well-being and healthcare access of Key Populations and the LBTQIGNC community.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our journey toward fostering true inclusivity and equitable representation for Key Populations and LBTIGNC communities is one that demands our unwavering commitment and persistence. The reflections from our consultative meeting have illuminated essential next steps on this path.

First and foremost, we must recognize that inclusion is intricately linked to the presence of supportive laws and policies, as well as accessible data. These foundational elements are pivotal in our quest for comprehensive reform. Moreover, as we navigate this journey, we must understand that all reforms involve processes. It becomes imperative to ensure that these processes are underpinned by protective laws that safeguard all communities, especially our Key Populations and LBTIGNC communities. 

To operate programs safely and without victimization, we must harness existing safety mechanisms, allocate resources effectively, and uplift those who carry our message. This underscores the urgency of enhancing our safety nets. In our pursuit of inclusivity, we must avoid using language that inadvertently discriminates against sexual and gender minorities. Our conversations and documents should reflect a commitment to eradicating such biases.

The prevailing tendency to exclude communities in planning, policy development, and implementation must change. Communities are urged to push for representation in financial processes and decision-making spaces from grassroots to the national level. To achieve this, we must foster intentional inclusion and meaningful engagement with political representatives and authorities through the proper channels and procedures. Capacity building, particularly through CSOs, is instrumental in this endeavor. Finally, comprehensive guidelines for Community-Led Monitoring (CLM) and monitoring of other diseases and chronic illnesses must be developed, extending beyond HIV care to address the diverse healthcare needs of our communities.

Our journey towards inclusivity and equitable representation is undoubtedly challenging, but with collective dedication and adherence to these vital reflections and next steps, we are poised to effect transformative change and ensure that no one is left behind in the pursuit of better health and well-being.

Fahe Kerubo

AfNHi Mentee 2023

 

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