MAPUTO, Mozambique – More than one million adolescent girls and young women aged 10-24 years in Nampula and Zambézia will benefit from a program funded by the Swedish government through the United Nations. The program will contribute to the empowerment of adolescent girls and young women and to improve their knowledge and capacities, improving their socio-economic status and their access to and use of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services.
To this end, the Government of Mozambique is to officially launch the Action for Girls program on August 15 in Nampula province. The program is valued at $14 million, of which $7.3 million will be channeled through UNFPA, $3.7 million through UNICEF, $1.3 million through UN WOMEN, and $470,000 through UNESCO. Members of the central and provincial government, UNFPA and other UN agencies, the Swedish Embassy and other partners will be present at the launch.
“This program aims to help adolescent girls to become increasingly active in society in promoting their own rights and their sexual and reproductive health, with a view to their full empowerment,” said Ana Flávia, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, emphasizing that strengthening the knowledge and skills of young girls is an indispensable tool for gender balance in Mozambique.
Bettina Mass, UNFPA Representative, representing the United Nations in Mozambique, said: “This is a huge achievement towards the empowerment of girls and young women in Mozambique and the promotion of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, aiming to curb harmful cultural practices against girls and women in Mozambique and reduce the poverty gap between men and women.”
The four-year program (2016-2019), Action for Adolescent Girls, will be implemented by the government of Mozambique, youth organizations and other civil society organizations in the provinces of Nampula and Zambézia, under the coordination of the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The program will contribute to strengthen the knowledge, agency and capacities of girls and young women to make informed decisions on their sexual and reproductive health, and demand for and uptake of essential sexual and reproductive health services. It will also contribute towards increasing the availability of quality integrated adolescent-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and to strengthened governance and coordination of integrated sexual and reproductive health programming. The project will also contribute to build an enabling, free and safe environment for increased participation of girls and young women and the promotion of their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
About 65 per cent of the Mozambican population is younger than 25 years. Young people continue to face various challenges for a healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood. These include low quality education, insufficient health services for adolescents and a high level of unemployment.
Available data show that girls and young women in particular face systematic disadvantages in many fields. They are more exposed to HIV infection and at an earlier age: 8 per cent of young people aged 15-24 are infected by HIV at national level, with significant gender disparities also across this age group - 11 per cent of adolescent girls and young women are infected compared to almost 4 per cent of boys and young men within the same age group (INSIDA 2009 data).
Additionally, girls and young women are exposed to a risk of premature and unwanted pregnancies, with 38 per cent of adolescent girls aged 15-19 years already being mothers or pregnant, which has serious consequences for their health and the health of their children, contributing to high rates of maternal mortality in the country. Girls and women are also exposed to high rates of gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage. The current situation poses a constraint for having the capacity and access to health choices and sexual and reproductive rights.
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