Most villages are tribal, remote and lagging in development. Hence, their social development indices are poor. There are no mechanisms to reach out to youth with correct information regarding sexual and reproductive health. This is particularly important as instances of child marriages, risk behaviors like having unprotected sex, adolescent pregnancies and unsafe abortions are often observed. The Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health programs, therefore, involve regular interactive sessions with adolescent girls and boys to familiarize them with not just the body and its functions but also the skills required to make informed decisions like assertive communication, leadership and alliance building.
The ARSH initiatives in five villages of Shahapur
Child marriages and early pregnancies are prevalent in tribal as well as non-tribal areas in Shahapur. They result in health consequences like:
- Premature babies
- Multiple pregnancies
- Child mortality .
- socio-economic consequences like
- Lack of or very low education among women
- Poor workforce participation
- Inability to achieve any personal growth and development
- The health consequences are compounded by the poor nutrition status of adolescent girls.
The PF team coordinates with Anganwadi workers to provide nutrition services to adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women. Simultaneously we work towards empowering the adolescents by providing them life skills and information about sexual and reproductive issues. Girls need to understand their anatomy to make decisions regarding their marriage, pregnancy, contraception and overall health.
With this objective Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH) sessions are conducted for adolescent girls (13 – 19 years) and boys. These workshops provide girls and boys with not just the information but a social space which is non-judgmental, open and responsive to their needs. There is a need for more such workshops, which talk about their own lives and teach them how to deal with it. Issues to do with physical relationships, pregnancies out of wedlock and contraception are the core areas of concern for the girls in many villages.
Usha, a teenager from Chinchwadi was married to the boy from neighbouring village at the age of 14. She was not ready for the responsibility that marriage had brought her. Her husband being an alcoholic was just one of her marital problems. After six months of marriage Usha returned to her parents for good. Usha wanted to study further which she had left to look after her younger siblings. On learning about her from an SHG member our field staff contacted her in the village and informed her about the workshop on ARSH issues by Population First. “I had never attended such a meeting before! It was something that I couldn’t have imagined in the village,” Usha recalls. After attending the workshop she became more concerned for her friends who were sailing in the same boat and needed education on sexual and reproductive health issues. She initiated a dialogue with them in an informal way.
Usha feels that at this point of time she might not be in a position to counsel her friends on this issue but would like to work as a link between them and Population First.
The aim of the project is to provide appropriate information about reproductive and sexual health to the youth of the village, so they may lead a responsible sexual life.Objectives:
- Creating a space for the village youth to discuss issues related to sexual and reproductive health
- Providing information on sex
- Eliminate myths, fears and prejudices on sexual behavior
- Family planning
- Preparing women and youth for participation in village development issues
ARSH sessions include discussions, question-answers sessions, lectures, demonstrations, practical exercises and games. They are conducted in villages on a regular basis. Subjects covered:
- Personal hygiene
- Sexual and reproductive rights and responsibilities
- Changes during adolescence and Puberty
- STD and HIV/AIDS awareness
- Responsible parenthood
- Curbing addiction.
Monthly meetings follow the training sessions between village youth groups and government health service providers like ANM, anganwadi worker and ASHA.
Sambhaji Nipurte, 16, who participated enthusiastically, said that many of the myths regarding the sexuality were dispelled during the workshop.Volunteer:
Support the cause by participating in a session with female youth groups from a village. Click here to volunteer.Fund and Support:
The cost of a day-long ARSH workshop for 40 students is Rs. 10,000/- Please contact us
to support the activity.