DAPP creates space for AGWY to improved knowledge and access for SRHR
July 2017 to June 2018, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) Malawi in partnership with National AIDS Commission (NAC) implemented Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) project targeting private secondary schools and tertiary education institutions in Mulanje and Thyolo districts.
Known as “Creating Space for Adolescent Girls and Young Women to improve Knowledge and Access for Sexual Reproductive Health (SRHR) services, the project supported the government’s efforts in curbing transmission of HIV and unwanted/unplanned pregnancies through improving knowledge and access to SRHR services.
This project aimed at increasing the knowledge levels, skills and positive attitudes on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) through innovative life skills education training, participation in club activities, sharing information using social media, accessing counselling, treatment, care and support services from health care workers, matrons and tutors to Adolescent Girls and Young Women.
The target was to reach 600 AGYW in 30 private secondary schools and 10 tertiary education institutions through career and motivational talks. 30 matrons and 30 youth clubs in SRSH were trained in SRHR issues and in turn 1350 AGYW were reached through career and motivational talks and 3,193 girls got registered in youth clubs where they were able to discuss SRHR topics.
The project also known as Hope in Schools, provided comprehensive HIV and AIDS interventions by promoting HIV prevention through increasing access and utilization of HIV and SRHR services among students in secondary and tertiary education institutions, training 19 peer educators to foster proper adolescent growth and development and orienting Parents and Teachers Associations members to take a lead in modifying harmful cultural practices.
The project confirmed that some girls take poverty as an excuse to engage in risky behaviors. The project had 9 girls in the clubs on record who confessed that they are in school because of boyfriends/sugar daddies who are supporting them with fees and school materials in exchange for sex. Some parents/ guardians marry off their daughters because they claim to have failed to financially support them in their education.
The project further noticed that private secondary schools are dominated by male teachers who inevitably are club patrons. In most cases girls were uncomfortable to approach or be so free with the patrons whenever they had personal issues (30 male teachers vs. 11 female teachers).
One of the project beneficiaries Caroline Lozeni from Thuchira said, the project came at a time when girls need empowerment to make right decisions so as to achieve their goals. She said after attending one of the trainings organized by the peer educators she was inspired to encourage her peers to remain in school, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and build their self-esteem so as to be at par with boys in education and other activities.
Other core activities in the project were training of health workers in provision of Youth Friendly Health services, formation of clubs in schools, orientation of tutors and district stakeholders which included the District Youth Office, District Education Office, Director of Planning and Development Office, District Health Management Team and the District Executive Committee.