Men and boys from Traditional Authority (T/A) Kayembe in Dowa, who are working under the banner of Male Champions, have broken the record for supporting girls to access reproductive health information and services.
The Male Champions have since supported 47 girls to access reproductive health services at Kayembe Health Center. And prevented 53 others from the brute of child marriage.
Meanwhile, poor access to SRH information and services put young people at risk of teen and unplanned pregnancies, Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs), unsafe abortions and forced marriages which cut their education and economic prospects.
There are approximately 5 million young people in Malawi between the ages of 10 and 24 (According to a 2015 Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) in Malawi policy brief by Health Policy Project). This presents a diverse generation that needs a range of Sex-
ual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services to match their lifecycle stage.
In 2007, the Malawi government launched the Youth Friendly Health Services National Standards and Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) program to promote high quality SRH information and service for young people.
Despite YFHS being a key component of Malawi’s National Sexual and Reproductive Health Program, which can facilitate the at-
tainment of Malawi’s Family Planning (FP2020) Agenda to achieve a 60% contraceptive prevalence rate, with a focused increase among those ages 15-24 years.
There have challenges ranging from social and cultural norms to lack of resources hin-dering this ambitious commitment. Eventual-
ly, this has a devastating impact on young people’s live, particularly girls, living in rural areas of Malawi.
Many girls have dropped out of school due to unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and child marriages caused by poor decision-making skills and access to SRH services, particularly YFHS.
It is against this background that Girls Empowerment (GENET) with funding from AmplifyChange implemented an SRH related project (Improving Girls’ Access to SRH Information & Services-IGASI), which seeks to reduce barriers that prevent girls and young women’s access to SRH information and services in Dowa district by 2019.
The project has been implemented in Traditional Authorities (TAs) Kayembe and Chakhaza and directly works with10 Health Centers namely: Chakhaza, Kayembe, Chizolowondo, Bowe, Madisi, Mbingwa, Nambuma, Kasese, Chinkhwili and Chisepo.
Direct beneficiaries of the project are vulnerable girls and young women. And indirect beneficiaries include parents, teachers, community police, traditional and religious leaders, media, magistrates, child protection officers, community health providers, policy
As one of the strategies, the project established Male Champions to support girls’ rights in the area of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).
Chairperson of Kayembe Male Champions Lyford Madetsa said the project has empowered them to take actions aimed at improving lives of girls and young women from their area.
“Meanwhile, we have supported 47 girls to access different SRH services at Kayembe Health Center as well prevented 53 others from early, forced and child marriages,” said Madetsa.
He described the Male Champions’ capacity building in the areas of women’s rights and SRHR as great investment.
On her part, Faith Phiri, founder and director of GENET, said SRH intervention is key to safeguarding young people’s reproductive
“Investing in young people’s health is vital for the future of our country. We want to see empowered girls who can decide if or when to have children or marry. It’s high time young people protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies and Sexual Trans-
mitted Infections (STIs) to achieve healthy lives and pursue their education,” said Phiri.
She added that girls’ access to SRH information and services is key to deciding their future .
“Unless girls are empowered to decide if or when to have a pregnancy or marry, their education and health will be compromised. Therefore, access to SRH information and services equip them with necessary defence to pursue their health and education goals confidently,” said Phiri.