International Day of the Girl: AfriKids
Futures’ Freedom is a project run by AfriKids and supported by a UK Aid Direct Impact Grant to provide advocacy in the rural Upper East Regions of Northern Ghana, where there is a lack of knowledge surrounding SRHR and harmful practices, including child marriage.
The project targets adolescent girls and young women to educate them about their rights and aims to improve communities’ understanding of SRHR by changing attitudes and behaviours through community development work, talks and education.
AfriKids’ approach is to use tried and tested methods to engage all levels of the community in behaviour change. For example, men and women employed as fieldworkers work with beneficiaries in their own communities and health talks involve women and girls alongside men and boys.
Part of the work of this project is to signpost women and girls to healthcare facilities, such as ante-natal and post-natal care and to educate them on family planning.
Another method used by the project is to set up Adolescent Centres in health facilities where adolescents can speak to health care professionals for non-judgemental, confidential SRHR advice.
Child rights clubs have also been established within schools to educate children about the importance of how to respect, fulfil and value SRHR and what to do if their rights, or the rights of somebody they know, are violated. Discussions at the clubs focus around child marriage, sexual health, consent and teenage pregnancy.
The clubs have proved invaluable for more than 10,000 children, who are members through the AfriKids network, and have stopped many children from dropping out of school.
Gloria, 15, is in her final year of Junior High School in the Talensi district. She is a member of her local Futures’ Freedom club and has ambitions to become a nurse.
Gloria has attended a number of talks on child marriage and preventing teenage pregnancy.
Many girls in Gloria’s school dropped out early due to the impracticality of raising babies alongside their studies. Gloria remarked how she believes that “their lives will not be good for them” as a result.
She described how the talks taught her that adolescents should wait until they are ready to start sexual relationships and this has inspired her to remain focused on her education in order to set a good example to her younger siblings.
Gloria will continue to be a part of the clubs until she finishes high school and thanked AfriKids for “continuing to help young people with their education”.