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A Guidance Note on Alternative Rites of Passage and Cultural Practices for Adolescents and Young People in East and Southern Africa

This guidance note describes the dominant adolescent rites of passage and initiation ceremonies in four countries in the Southern African region - Malawi, Eswatini, South Africa and Zambia . UNFPA-ESARO chose to focus on these four countries because they are implementing countries of the Safeguard Young People Programme (SYP).

SYP was developed in 2013 to scale up comprehensive interventions in ESA for young people ages 10 to 24 to protect themselves from STIs (including HIV), early and unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, early marriage, gender-based violence and harmful cultural practices, while promoting genderequitable norms.

These countries, therefore, as part of their participation in SYP, have already begun to acknowledge some of the negative physical, social, emotional and psychological impacts of certain adolescent initiation practices and have undertaken a review of their rites of passage . In some cases, they have begun implementing programmatic and policy changes.

UNFPA-ESARO’s goal in this guidance document is to raise additional awareness about those practices that are limiting young people’s potential and, in some cases, harming them physically, socially and emotionally.