Her Voice Fund Project
With support from the Her Voice Fund, Y+ Global, LICO is working with young people (AGYWs) to amplify their voices through advocacy in local governing structures for improved delivery of SRHR services.
Despite government’s effort through ministry of health to increase access and uptake of sexual and reproductive health services targeting adolescents and young people between age of 1–24 years in Malawi, Rumphi district has high prevalence rate of forced and child marriages and teenage pregnancies due to low accessibility to services. There is limited access to comprehensive SRHR services by the adolescents and young adults.
The health service delivery and community systems do not fully provide comprehensive access and uptake of quality SRHR services targeting youths and adolescents. Knowledge gap is so big on SRHR information and services including modern contraceptives, HIV and STI services among adolescents and young people. Further, laws and policies which protect the rights of children are not known to AYA, hence partial implementation which limit AYA to access services including justice. All these put AYAs at risk of catching HIV/STIs leading to high loss of lives and unintended pregnancies leading to child marriages.
Also, high levels of school dropouts and absenteeism especially amongst girls due to poverty, child and forced marriages and teenage pregnancies. Lack of school basic need such as school fees and writing materials (poverty) and menstrual sanitary pads during menstruation are contributing factors leading girls to dropout from school. Often girls do not realise that they can still go back to school after giving birth.
HIV and AIDS has become the second leading cause of death for adolescents globally and the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10-24 years in Africa. In Malawi, access to and uptake of HIV counselling, testing and treatment by adolescents has been significantly lower than by adults, and ART coverage rates are lower for adolescents than for any other age group of people living with HIV hence it is a challenge to meet HIV prevention targets of 90-90-90. Issues around stigma and discrimination due to HIV are common among AYA.
In order to address these problems, in a joint work plan with the AGYWs, the following interventions are being carried out: Capacity building to AGYW Champions in youth leadership, project management, and advocacy and life skills; periodic interface meetings between representatives of AGYW and duty bearers to raise the profile of AGYW network for sustainable partnerships; sensitization sessions with impact communities on SRHR services and government policies to create demand for youth friendly health serves; media dissemination and IEC messages.
Ultimately, the project would like to yield the following results: increased capacity of AGYW in skills related to policy interpretation, advocacy and decision-making in improving delivery of SRHR services; increased involvement and influence of AGYW in the design, implementation and oversight of relevant district costed plans to ensure that they adequately reflect and respond to SRHR realities of AGYW.