A network of local non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) that has been championing the Get Up, Speak Out (GUSO) Project in Chikwawa says the project has helped to empower the youth in the district to demand for their sexual and reproductive health rights.
The five-year project which started in 2016 and phased out in December this year targeted the youth group of 10 to 24 years empowering them, especially young boys and girls on their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in the districts of Chikwawa and Mangochi.
During an open day organised recently at Nkopora Primary School in Group Village Headman (GVH) Kutama in Senior Chief Ngabu’s area, Chairperson for the SRHR Alliance, Kelton Bolokonya observed that the project has helped the youth in Chikwawa to freely speak out on matters of their sexuality in public.
He added that the project has also helped to change mindset among young people on sexuality issues and that they are now able to access friendly reproductive health services unlike in the past when they regarded sexuality matters as a taboo.
“Sexuality is a matter of human rights for everybody. It is therefore important for young people in the country especially girls to ensure that they are aware of their sexuality so as to prevent them from being abused and also to allow them to utilize friendly sexual reproductive health services,” said Bolokonya.
Dr Kaunda Nkhuwi of Chikwawa District Health Office hailed the project saying it has helped to reduce sexually transmitted disease infection rate and unwanted pregnancies among the youth in the district.
Mbungu Manason, Chairperson for Ngabu youth network said GUSO Project has helped them to be able to question duty bearers on service delivery and has also increased meaningful youth participation at local level on top of enabling them to openly discuss sexuality issues among them and their parents.
GUSO Project was being funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was being implemented by an alliance of local organizations namely; Centre for the Victimized Women and Children (CAVWOC), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Coalition of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (COWLHA), Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO), Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) and Centre for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education (CYECE).