Fighting Gender-Based Violence and Challenging Gender Norms in Mozambique
You can’t talk about providing reproductive and sexual health care without talking about gender inequality, and you can’t talk about gender inequality without talking about sexual and reproductive health. In Mozambique, 20,000 + women and girls have received gender-based violence services from facilities supported by Pathfinder International, and the organization is on the ground providing access to reproductive health care and building a strong local response to gender-based violence. Estrella Alcalde with Pathfinder International Mozambique talks to us about the ways gender norms impact access to SRH care, and vice versa.
Currently, Pathfinder International Mozambique is employing a program funded by Global Efforts Canada in two provinces that experience high rates of early marriage, early pregnancies, and gender inequality. The program targets adolescent girls in young women and encourages them to exercise their right to sexual and reproductive health and bodily autonomy. Pathfinder Mozambique conducted a survey with young girls, women, and men in these communities in order to pin down social norms, perceptions, and attitudes towards gender-based relationships, contraceptives, gender-based violence, and more. Thanks to the survey, Pathfinder found that patriarchal norms and gender-normative thinking is prevalent amongst populations in these communities.
The survey also showed the normalization of gender-based violence by adolescent girls, which is seen commonly in sexual and reproductive health clinics. Many girls have experienced sexual abuse, assault, or rape. These young women and girls internalize the harmful cultural norms that contribute to guilt and shame. Pathfinder is working with providers and police to try and approach gender-based violence in a multi-sectoral way, which includes training providers to leave their judgement behind, provide contraception and prophylaxes, and working to actively combat gender norms in these areas.
Pathfinder is working at the individual level to address these harmful gender norms, with both girls and boys. The organization provides safe spaces for girls to converse about issues with their bodies, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, and cultural norms. Pathfinder also engages in community intervention in order to garner involvement and support of access to sexual and reproductive health care.
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