Collaborating with national ministries and partner organisations to deliver a rights-based sexual and reproductive health curriculum to young people across Madagascar, reducing their vulnerability to HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancies.
With little provision for sexual and reproductive health education within Madagascar’s national school curriculum there is no effective means of delivering sexual health information to young people. Additionally, cultural taboos (or fady) associated with talking openly about sex, sexuality and contraception present barriers to engaging youth in necessary discussions about their bodies and rights.
With no official framework advocating for the rights of young women – indeed the opposite is true, with institutionalised gender disparities and criminalised abortion, even in cases of rape or incest – one in three girls in Madagascar have their first child before they reach the age of 18, some 15% higher than the African average (UNFPA, 2013). Early pregnancies often force girls out of school, reducing their livelihood options and increasing the burden of poverty.
Nationally an increasing number of women engage in formal or informal prostitution to support livelihoods (UNICEF, 2007; US Dept. of State, 2014). Between 2006 and 2010 the number of people testing positive for HIV in Fort Dauphin increased by 64% (Ministry of Health, 2010) and with weakening health infrastructure and services, these trends are expected to continue.
In the absence of both basic health services and information, improved sexual and reproductive health education is essential for young people to prevent unintended pregnancies and curb the spread of HIV and other STIs. Further, gender equity must be embedded in the Malagasy education system and rights-based sexual health education needs to provide young people with the advocacy skills to discuss and negotiate safer sex.
Less than 9% of young people aged 15-24 with multiple sexual partners consistently use condomsUNICEF, 2009
Underpinned by a rights-based framework, SEED Madagascar provides access to quality sexual and reproductive health education. This includes the necessary tools to negotiate safer sexual relationships, and the knowledge and confidence to access services that enable young people to protect themselves against the transmission of HIV and STIs and unintended pregnancies.
SEED understands that empowering youth with the knowledge and skills to make safe and healthy sexual choices is an investment in the future of Madagascar, and that we are not the only organisation pursuing this. SEED collaborates with a broad range of organisations to deliver comprehensive sexual education. These range from the internationally renowned PSI and Marie Stopes to national partners such as the Madagascar Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Network, and numerous community-based organisations including ASOS and VARA.
Building on the first two phases of Project Safidy, Phase 3 is scaling lessons learned and best practices to a national level, with the refinement of sexual education resources for national dissemination. These resource packs will be organised into 12 sexual and reproductive health themes, to be taught in high schools across Madagascar through collaboration with the Ministry of National Education and numerous partner organisations.
Mercury Phoenix Trust and Amplify Change
Visit the Safidy project website for news, resources and member organisation details.Safidy.org