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News - African Youth Advocacy Network

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We must invest in sex education to save adolescents

Many adolescents in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa are sexually active if the high birth rates that have been reported is anything to go by. The devastating impact HIV/AIDS, the many unintended pregnancies which have pushed some of the young people into unsafe abortions, and the risk of being infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), means addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents is of essence. There is therefore need for all stakeholders to join hands in protecting the health of adolescents which must be given priority as we seek to improve public health. So how do we go about this? There should be increased investment in improving sexual and reproductive health of adolescents. This will also contribute to economic growth as the young people will grow into healthy and productive adults. Many countries have prioritised Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) because this age group constitutes a huge portion […]

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How a community-run helpline is helping women access safe abortion advice in Kenya

In a leafy Nairobi suburb, the roaring traffic and human bustle of the city’s highways has receded into the distance. All that breaks the soft silence is the insistent ringing of the phone inside an office decorated with posters promoting sexual and reproductive rights. One poster explores consent: “is she shy, or too afraid to say stop?” Another exhorts the reader to “be true to you”, while one simply states “joy”. Picking up that phone are the team behind Aunty Jane, a hotline which provides support for anyone with questions about their sexual and reproductive health, including how to access safe and legal abortion care. “The hotline gets calls from teenage girls asking about menstruation, older women asking about the menopause, but the majority of calls are about accessing abortion,” explains Adhiambo, programme coordinator with an organisation that supports Aunty Jane. “The youngest caller we had was 11, the oldest was […]

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Kenya’s Pro-Choice Movement Faces Emboldened Threats IN A POST-ROE WORLD

Girls in my university would drink disinfectant and other concoctions if they had an unplanned pregnancy,” says Quin, a young graduate in Nakuru, Kenya. “They use pens, or go see quack doctors. You would hear of foetuses being dumped in bins”. Quin volunteers at RHCO, a sexual health project agitating for greater access to reproductive healthcare in a country where unsafe abortions are estimated to kill 2,500 women and girls each year. The project operates from a small and sparse office at the end of a dusty track, where goats, roosters and motorbikes congregate and street sellers offer water and phone credit to passers-by. Now, with the decision to overturn Roe v Wade, Quin and women’s reproductive rights activists all across Kenya know the forces resisting them – many linked to the same global organisations that campaigned for the Supreme Court decision – are about to get a whole lot stronger. […]

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Legalise safe abortions, once and for all

Unsafe abortion is one of the causes of maternal deaths, accounting for 13 per cent of all maternal deaths globally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Abortions are safe when carried out by a skilled person using a method recommended by WHO and that is appropriate to the pregnancy duration.     Such abortions can be done using tablets (medical abortion) or a simple outpatient procedure. Unsafe abortions, however, are the kind carried out either by an unskilled person or in an environment with minimal medical standards, or both. The people, skills and medical standards considered safe in the provision of induced abortions are different for medical abortion (performed with drugs alone), and surgical abortion (performed with a manual or electric aspirator). Skills and medical standards required for safe abortion also vary depending on the duration of the pregnancy and evolving scientific advances. Annually, 22 million women have an unsafe abortion […]

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A case for rights-based family planning

A report published last month by Family Planning 2020 revealed that Kenya is still on track to meet its family planning goal for modern contraceptive prevalence. As a result of contraceptive use in Kenya, says the report, more than 2 million unintended pregnancies were prevented, and 503,000 unsafe abortions and 5,700 maternal deaths averted in the last year alone. This is great news in a time when the Covid-19 is threatening to divert all national healthcare resources. However, many communities in marginalized parts of Kenya are still resistant to various contraception options as valid and reasonable approaches to family planning. This is often due to various cultural and religious reasons. Family planning is a human right, and is indispensable to the realisation of all sexual and reproductive rights. Family planning also contributes to sustainable development and gender equality. It facilitates choice, providing contraceptive options to the 225 million women with […]

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Advance commitment to education on sexuality

Young people of reproductive age have the right to live healthy and ful- filling lives. It is a right that has been reiterated in various national, region- al and global declarations, initiatives and frameworks. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), anchored in the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, for example, reminds us of the importance of investing in the ones most left behind (young people of reproductive age and the marginalized); for most countries in the Eastern and Southern African (ESA) region, these are adolescents and youth in all their diversities. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 further builds on and looks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing initiatives for growth and sustainable development and, among others, promises to em- power women and youth to fulfill the African Dream. In December 2013, ministers of Education and Health from 20 ESA countries affirmed and endorsed their joint commitment to deliver […]

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