Providing sexual reproductive health services to end child marriages

Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO) says Malawi can register notable strides in preventing child marriages through promotion of sexual and reproductive health services among adolescents.

YONECO’s Executive Director MacBain Mkandawire said this in an interview on the organization’s interventions in Mangochi and Mchinji under Marriage: No Child’s Play project which seeks to end child marriages.

Mkandawire said teenage pregnancy is one of the factors driving girls into marriages hence usage of contraceptives should be enhanced among girls.

He said with contraceptives girls are able to prevent pregnancy.

He said after becoming pregnant, some girls are forced into marriage by parents who are afraid of being shamed.

“With contraceptives, the use of condoms and life skills girls are able to protect themselves and therefore they are not in a situation of being pregnant and eventually getting married,” he said.

Patuma Silaji of Mnani village in Traditional Authority Namavi in Mangochi district is one of the girls who has benefitted from Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services such as knowledge on contraceptives since joining Mnani Girls Club in 2017.

Patuma, said the use of contraception has assisted her to finish her secondary school education without any challenges.

“I have learnt from form 1 up to Form 4 at St Joseph Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) but unfortunately I failed the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations but I will write again,” she said.

Youth Community-Based Distribution Agent (YCBDA) in Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji, Mercy Zimba said after receiving training through the project, she has managed to change youth’s perceptions on contraceptives thereby enhancing uptake.

Zimba also said due to the project’s interventions cases of teenage pregnancy have dropped in the area.

She said since last year one teenage pregnancy has been registered in the six villages under her jurisdiction as compared to five teenage pregnancies every month in 2017.

“Since last year one teenage pregnancy has been registered in the six villages of Kampandira, Mtanga, Mdzomba, Kacheta, Namiya and Takumana which are under my jurisdiction,” Zimba said.

YONECO is implementing Marriage: No Child’s Play Project in Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji and Traditional Authorities Namavi and Makanjira in Mangochi under the More than Brides Alliance with financial support from Simavi.

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