Malawian youths face similar situations; the chances of getting support to finish school are limited. Most young people, especially girls, will probably have to leave school to marry and start a family earlier than anticipated, or to live as a single mother with the associated stigma.
Lack of access to contraception and accurate information about sexual and reproductive health is another different story to address.
Youth in Agriculture for Economic Development (YAED) believes in a society of energetic and health young people for the creation of a well development community. The organisation understand that traditional Malawi parents cringes at the mention of sexual and reproductive health when it comes to their children, and the educational system struggles to properly teach adolescents about sexual health, especially with regards to the use of contraception.
The reality is that many young people in Malawi are confronted with situations where they are put under pressure to engage in sexual activity.
YAED Director of Programs Happy Arnold on Saturday stated that there is a critical need for young people to be accurately taught about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SHR’s) and given access to proper health services.
He reiterated that young people in the country are sexually active and that there is little desire to avoid pregnancy which leads to majority of them being exposed to sexually transmitted diseases leading to school dropout.
Most of pregnancies among youth groups are unintended, and about half of these unintended pregnancies result in abortion – most of which are unsafe.
“As an organisation we believe in creating a health community where young people have access to information on SHR, HIV/AIDS, free from GBV’s and there is reduction in school dropout. The project YAED is implementing is intended improve in quality of education information for awareness which improves young people’s capacity and chances of gainful insightful knowledge.
“We want them to have significant knowledge on issues of health. Lack of investment in effective SRH means that young people are denied accurate information and are disempowered, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, an inability to complete their education as a result of unwanted pregnancies, and a consequent limitation in their future,” added Arnold.
Access to accurate information is a prerequisite for access to quality services, especially in SRH. The organization understand challenges that young people face when accessing SRH services are huge and increasing every day. Through the project at the backend, young people receive the messages and respond to questions from the councilors and project facilitators to assess their knowledge on the issues.
The numbers of young people that that are yearning for knowledge on SRH and other related issues is quite high.
Twenty three year old Ivy Chisaka is a recent graduate of Chancellor College, University of Malawi and one of the project volunteers. She said the awareness platform in peer information education is vital and more comfortable to discuss sexual health and relationship issues because of the openness it offers. She encouraged fellow youth to value the knowledge benefit from other discussions.
Explained Chisaka, “We want to share sexual health issues because they are very important and lacking among most young people. If I advise my fellow youth on these issues, I am very sure they will do something with the information. These young people need to be drilled on SHR and get motivated to stay in school. I want to be an act of change and inspire them in different ways through awareness.”
YAED intends to engage eighty young people in Chiradzulu District of which at least seventy six have been reached. The initiative has a positive impact in rural areas for positive development of the country. A thirty days project is being implanted in partnership with HerVoice Fund.