Empower the adolescent girl with sexual reproductive health services

Empower the adolescent girl with sexual reproductive health services
Today the world marks the International day of the Girl Child which is being celebrated in Uganda with the theme �Empowerment of adolescent girls; a pathway to ending the cycle of violence."

The day is aimed at raising awareness about all issues concerning gender inequality around the world. It�s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance the rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.
 
October 11 is therefore not just a day; it�s a movement that we should all join to ensure that we jointly contribute towards ensuring a safe and productive environment for our girls especially the adolescents because that is a critical stage in their lives at which they can be influenced into dangerous Sexual Reproductive Health practices.
 
According to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey (2011) 24% of Ugandan adolescent girls become pregnant before the age of 19. As such, Uganda is one of the countries with the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa. This means that a similar number of young people faces a significant risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
 
Adolescent pregnancy also highly contributes to maternal mortality, prenatal mortality, infant mortality and to the vicious cycle of ill-health and poverty.  Statistics show that about 40% of maternal deaths are girls who get pregnant when young. The major barriers to resolving this challenge is still the lack of comprehensive Reproductive Health and sexuality education for adolescents.
 
Young people have very limited channels to express their sexual and reproductive health challenges, or platforms to learn more about their sexuality and rights.  Adolescents continue to feel ashamed, disempowered or objectified around expression of sexuality.
 
Young women need to be supported to ensure that they access safe, legal and a wide choice of Sexual Reproductive Health services. They should be availed services through accessible and innovative ways for example using mobile platforms such as the Marie Stopes Hotline and SMS Platform which are available free of charge for youths to receive age appropriate information to enable them make health choices about their sexuality. Also ensuring that services are readily available in the communities for young people through mobile outreaches for example the Linkup project�s Tuk-Tuk mobile van which brings Sexual Reproductive Health services closer to places that are frequented by young people.
 
Young people deserve the finest medical care and we want that for them. The first step is ensuring that Sexual Reproductive Health services are available. We need to make sure that youth are aware of places they can access services through promoting these facilities and services on social media and other forums that are popular among young people. The second step is making reproductive health care affordable and different options are available.
 
We must increase investment in young people through providing Sexual Reproductive Health information and services which will provide them with the resources and skills to protect themselves against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. We also need to teach our girls self confidence, esteem and self awareness. Adolescents further need access to opportunities and activities which will encourage them to believe in themselves and to take advantage of educational opportunities as they raise and to overcome obstacles to their Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights
 
This October, let�s therefore join hands to increase investment in young girls because Adolescence is a time to acquire skills, health and social attributes that will help them leave a fulfilling life. Let�s use whatever little resources are available to us in our setting to help adolescent girls stay in school and get access to correct Reproductive health information. Like Mahatma Gandhi said �Let�s be the change we want to see�. Let�s strive towards enhancing young girl�s capacities which will lead to larger returns during the course of their economically active lives.



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