Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: Adolescents Edition
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) is essential in achieving sustainable development. Adolescents and young people have the inherent right to make their own free and informed choices and to have control over their sexual and reproductive health and lives. With their choices being void of coercion, violence, discrimination, and abuse. Adolescent Girls and Young Women AGYW in particular, are denied the ability to enjoy these rights.
- Efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality rates
- Ensuring quality sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptive services
- Addressing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and cervical cancer
- Addressing violence against women and girls
- Addressing sexual and reproductive health needs for adolescents
Sexual healthcare can include lots of different things like; access to birth control or emergency contraception, STD and HIV testing and treatment accessing the HPV vaccine, a gynecological exam, or just regular check-ups. Depending upon where you live there may be many places to get sexual health care or there may be very few.
School may be a good starting place, some schools have a school-based health center and may offer services on sight. Another place you may go to is a local hospital, health department, or Planned Parenthood. In some places, minors can get sexual health care without a parent’s consent. In others depending on your age, you may need the consent of your parents to get services. Sometimes it may feel awkward and embarrassing going to the clinic for the first time so it is advisable to take someone you trust with you for support.
Through the Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) program CSO has been able to ensure that adolescents are well informed in matters of reproductive health. The Teenage Mothers Empowerment Program (TEMEP) seeks to respond to the needs of teen mothers who are always in need after giving birth. The program offers them assistance in refocusing and reorganizing their lives to fit into their new reality of parenthood.
From January 2021, Child Space Organization (CSO) has been engaging the Adolescents Girls, and Young Women (AGYW) through capacity-building workshops to advocate for their rights to access the SRHR friendly services right from the grassroots in Ruaraka Sub-County, Nairobi, where we work.
While Sexual health education especially in adolescents, faces multiple challenges in many cultures, CSO offers age-appropriate sex education sessions to teens in and out of schools amalgamated with necessary skills to navigate through life challenges that adolescents face daily.
From the year 2019, we have been able to register zero teenage pregnancies among the children we work with, an achievement that many parents attribute to our holistic interventions in the community. This has also resulted in many boys abandoning the bottle and other substances to focus on their future goals. Drugs and Substance Use was a major problem when we commenced our weekly mentorship program, which largely contributed to the rise in teen pregnancies.
- Lack of attention paid to sexual health by the community and the topic on sexual health is viewed as taboo thus creating a resistance to teaching it.
- Ambiguity in sexual health education at schools is propagated by the failure to understand health education and a deficit of sexual health education.
- Lack of proper education on the use of the internet leaving the adolescents at the mercy of incomplete and context inappropriate materials on sex education from online sites.
- Late education on the matters of reproductive health with most of the adolescents receiving sex education after they have already become teenage mothers or fathers.
- Adolescent rebellious attitudes as they battle for independence as well as lack of interaction with parents and teachers regarding sex education.