Local leaders have welcomed a new project aimed at promoting sexual and reproductive health rights as well as addressing gender based violence among teenagers.
The number of teenage pregnancies is on the rise nowadays due to the lack of information and skills about sex and reproductive health, activists say.
The project, called ‘Speak Out’, was launched yesterday by ActionAid, which is set to spend Rwf1 billion over the next four years of the project’s lifespan in the four districts of Nyanza, Gisagara, Nyaruguru and Karongi.
The project seeks to empower 5,600 girls between 9 and 18 years old to be able to report and respond to cases of violence while 48,000 community members, including boys, will be sensitised.
Marie Claire Uwamariya, the Vice Mayor in Charge of Social Affairs in Musanze District, said the campaign will go a long in lowering cases of teenage pregnancies, one of the major challenges putting pressure on the district’s resources.
Last year, Musanze recorded 700 teenage pregnancies, the deputy mayor said, adding that when children are born in poor families the districts take up the responsibility of providing them with basic needs like health insurance and accommodation.
In 2016, Rwanda registered 17,000 teenage pregnancies, according to figures from Imbuto Foundation.
Uwamariya added that although children learn sexual and reproductive health and their rights at school, they don’t always apply what they learn in their daily lives.
“You can build a house within months, but changing behaviours of people can’t be measurable and it requires consistency and collaboration of all stakeholders. We expect good results from this project,” she said.
She added: “It’s amazing that girls and boys will be empowered together in order to understand the contribution of everyone in limiting teenage and unwanted pregnancies”.
Pascaline Umulisa, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Guides Association, which will develop a curriculum that will be used by teenagers during the project, said they will focus on teaching girls about reproductive health, boosting their self-confidence, denouncing GBV in their respective communities, among other activities.