A group of organizations which include; Ihorere Munyarwanda (AIMR), Health Development Initiative (HDI) and Rwanda NGO’s Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion (RNGOF) are advocating for condom accessibility in Secondary schools.
The objective of this advocacy is to contribute to the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to promote youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Rwanda.
All three organizations AIMR-Ihorere Munyarwanda, HDI and RNGOF are active and are also leading members of the Rwandan Civil Society Coalition for the Health and Human Rights of sexual minorities.
The project aims to implement evidence-based advocacy and social mobilization on the sexual and reproductive health rights of Rwandan youth, in order to promote policy reform regarding condom availability in secondary schools.
These organizations view improving availability and accessibility for youth as a priority for efforts to help prevent the spread of HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
Christine Calouro, the Advocacy and Communication Officer of Health Development Initiative (HDI) Rwanda, noted that they want to change the perception that, “condoms encourage promiscuity.”
“We also want to overcome policy barriers to teaching safe sex including condom use so as to avoid unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS among secondary school students,” Calouro said.
Cassien Havugimana, Acting Managing Director and Programs Manager at HDI, said that they often hear complaints from students regarding their incapability to access condoms.
“We got the idea for this project from the students’ complaints. Behaviour change education must be coupled with access to the materials needed for safe sex to be effective,”Havugimana noted.
In a statement released by the health organizations, ‘youth in secondary schools continue to face difficulty in accessing condoms and contraception to help in prevention of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.’
Statistics show that, ‘only 37 percent of young women aged 15 to 24, reported being able to access condoms on their own in 2005 compared to 73 percent of young men of the same age.’
“Limited access to, and availability of condoms poses a significant barrier to the practice of safe sex among youth. In 2005, only 13.3 percent of young women and 10.7 percent of young men aged 15 to 19, reported condom use is their last high risk sexual intercourse,” reads the statement.
Canut Dufitumukiza, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda NGO’s Forum on AIDS and Health Promotion, said condom accessibility among the youth is necessary.
“Youth access to condoms in secondary schools is needed in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS at a young age. And, this forum is very pleased to participate in this project.”