E4C PROGRAM LAUNCHED!
Empowered for Change is a one-year program that is being implemented in Kenya and Uganda to reduce HIV incidence among Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW). The project is piloting an innovative model of intensive, remunerated advocacy training and mentoring of a small cohort of young women, to empower them to advocate on key issues including access to HIV services, impunity for gender-based violence (GBV) and comprehensive sexuality education. The program seeks more widely to enable young women to demand a place in all decisions, laws and policies that affect them, including on Universal Health Coverage.
Frontline AIDS is leading a formidable consortium of organizations in Kenya and Uganda who
have a long history of addressing the barriers AGYW face on HIV and SRHR and a proven track record of building movements of young advocates. Partners have carefully selected 29 young advocates for this program. In Uganda the project is being implemented in Luwero and Busia by PHAU and CSYRA respectively and in Kenya by LVCT.
Empowered for Change is unique. Participants will be paid a salary, which will support them to commit fully to the program, and will be trained in advocacy skills, gender transformative approaches and Community-Based Participatory Research so that they are able to generate, analyze and use data for evidence-based advocacy. They will also receive one-to-one mentoring, and linkages will be made to other AGYW programs such as DREAMS.
The E4C project kicked off with a training of advocates from the implementing partners that’s PHAU and CYSRA in Uganda where a 5 days training took place 2 days virtually and the 3 days was physical.
The training was majorly around SRHR (Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights) areas which included;
This was looked at into details, what HIV and AIDs is, HIV also known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDs also known as Acquired immunodeficiency Syndrome. The two related and yet different in a way that you can have HIV and not have AIDS but you can’t have AIDs and not have HIV. The HIV prevalence in Uganda especially among young people, how the spread of HIV among young people can be reduced through working towards achieving the target of 95;95;95 which breaks down to 95% population knowing their HIV status, 95% who have tested positive are put on treatment, 95% who are on treatment having a suppressed viral load.
Gender Based Violence (GBV)
This included details of what GBV is, it refers to violence that is directed against a person on the basis of their gender or sex including acts that inflict physical, mental or mental harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty. The different types of GBV which are sexual violence, physical violence and emotional or psychological violence. The common perpetrators of GBV are persons who hold a position of power or control others, whether in private or public sphere and who the primary victims/survivors of GBV are, which include women and men of all ages & backgrounds and persons who have been separated from their family or community or who lack access to shelter, education and livelihood opportunities are among those most at risk of GBV.
The term sexually transmitted infection is used to refer to a condition passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The Examples of STIs/STDs include Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Trichomoniasis etc which can be treated and HPV, HIV, Herpes which can’t be treated and how these STIs /STDs can be prevented as well as treated.
Family Planning and Contraceptives
This refer services that enable individuals and couples attain their desired of children and the spacing as well as prevent wanted pregnancies. Its is achieved through use of contraceptive methods which include;
Hormonal methods which either contain estrogen only or both estrogen and progestin and the types of hormonal method include contraceptive pills, contraceptive injections, implants, an Intra Uterine Device (IUD), Vaginal rings and skin patches. I learnt the correct duration of taking emergency contraceptive pills
Barrier methods. This prevents pregnancy by blocking sperm. This stops the sperm from reaching an egg. The types include condom which offers dual protection that’s from unwanted pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted diseases, diaphragms, cervical caps and contraceptive sponge.
Natural method. This method doesn’t involve any pills or devices and it includes, periodic abstinence (safe days and fertility awareness), Lactational amenorrhea (LAM) and withdrawal method.
Permanent methods. This involves sterilization to prevent pregnancy permanently and it includes tubal ligation and vasectomy.
This refers to when a girl under the age of 20 gets parent, it usually refers to girl between 15-19 years though it can include girls as young as 10years. The teenage pregnancy rate in Uganda is worrying at 25%. Most teens fall pregnant because lack of parental guidance and role models in the village and influence by their peers who fell pregnant at an early age and were ignorant about contraceptives.
Advocates were trained on communication skills as well, how to effectively communicated to an audience by first identifying the type of audience, what a successful communication involves, , .the barriers of effective communication and how these barriers can be overcome.
Advocates were trained on how to effectively implement an advocacy strategy since change happens slowly so therefore one needs to be patient, pace yourself and be persistent. They must set realistic goals, identify target audiences, develop persuasive messages and build alliances. Developing an advocacy strategy involves 9 steps which are identifying the issue, selecting goals and objectives identifying the target audiences, shaping the message, building support, developing an action plan, raise funds, allocating the funds and implementation of the strategy.
Advocates were trained on how to effectively collect, clean and store data on an online platform called the Wanda system which helps with safe keeping of the data.
The E4C program will enable advocates to challenge social norms that exclude young women from decision making and to demand that their needs are addressed in all relevant decisions, laws and policies including universal Health Coverage.
The program will enable advocates to become co-researchers and to generate & analyze data that can be used for evidence-based advocacy.
The programme will as well empower young people with critical advocacy skills to counter harmful conservative norms blocking progress on issues like comprehensive Sexuality education and gender base violence.