Advocating for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Across Africa
In Malawi, 2 in 5 sexually active unmarried women have an unmet need for contraception. In Zimbabwe, fewer than half of adolescents have comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS. And each year, one million Tanzanian women have an unintended pregnancy. Thandie Msukuma from Malawi, Dr. Lilian Benjamin Mwakyosi from Tanzania, and Hilda Zenda from Zimbabwe, advocates from the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), sit down with us to talk about what we can do to expand access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for young people in these African countries.
Whether in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, or Malawi, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, particularly when it comes to HIV prevention, are paramount. There are many barriers that can prevent comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health and HIV services, including shame and stigma from healthcare providers, parents, and teachers, a lack of inclusive and accurate sex education free of judgement, as well as the exclusion of young people in SRHR planning.
U.S. policy impacts the sexual and reproductive health care that women and girls throughout Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe can receive. DREAMS is a PEPFAR partnership that works to reduce rates of HIV/AIDS in women and girls in Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. But in Malawi, for example, DREAMS is only available in two out of twenty-eight districts. It is vital that DREAMS continue, as 1,000 women and young girls are newly infected with HIV every day. Unfortunately, Since the transition into the Trump-Pence administration, there have been dramatic cuts to global health at large, and this includes HIV/AIDS.
It is difficult for young women to practice their empowerment when boys and men are not integrated into the fight for comprehensive and reproductive health and rights in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Incorporating religious and community leaders to empower girls may also influence boys and men to support the SRHR growth of girls and women.
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