A PROJECT that seeks to increase meaningful engagement and participation of youths in a review of the Adolescent Health Strategy (AHS) has been launched.
Dubbed ‘Opportunity for Youth Engagement (OYE),’ the project will be implemented in Kilwa Masoko and Kilwa Kivinje wards of Kilwa District Council (KDC) by Wote Initiative for Development Empowerment (WIDE) under the support from HerVoice, a non-governmental organisation.
Giving a briefing about the project recently after the launch, WIDE Executive Director Jeremiah Wandili said adolescent girls and youths aged 12 to 24 years in the country face a number of challenges related to accessing sexual/reproductive health rights services and information.
According to Wandili, the project aims to increase the demand for and utilisation of quality sexual/reproductive health (SRH) and the adoption of safer sexual behavioral practices by 5 per cent among young adults aged 13-24 years.
The director said the project targets to reach 200 adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in both wards who engage themselves in groups as primary stakeholders in schools and out of school.
He explained that while much has been done to improve access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information, services and supplies among older adolescents in Tanzania, still there was a wide gap among AGYW awareness on various issues related to SRHR in Kilwa district.
“Young people are placed at the centre of hardship from cultural norms and religious practices, which makes adolescent girls and young women in the areas to remain silent, fail to negotiate for safer sex and decide for the time to get married,” he said.
According to him, young people had valuable contributions to make to their societies and must have recognised and respected voices in all policy and decision-making processes.
He said young people’s access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights information and education is vital for safeguarding and promoting the life, health, and well-being of all young people.
Sexual and reproductive rights are human rights, and therefore apply equally to young people, he said stressing that all human rights are universal and must not be limited on the grounds of conflict with religion, culture or tradition.
He said youth participation was essential to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes and policies address the realities, concerns and priorities of all young people.
Currently, WIDE has managed to engage AGYW groups in Kilwa Masoko and Zinduka group, a youth-led community-based organization (CBO) in Kivinje and Tuseme clubs at Kilwa Masoko primary school.
By WIDE Communication Officer
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