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Build the Agency of 150 Adolescent Girls and Women

by Education as a Vaccine
Build the Agency of 150 Adolescent Girls and Women
AGY championing their cause supprtd by influencers
AGY championing their cause supprtd by influencers

Nigeria is a signatory to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The treaty recognizes access to health related education and information, including sexual and reproductive health as an important health right. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says that adolescents have a right to health services that can meet their particular needs, including the right to information on sexual and reproductive health. Even though these frameworks exist, there are still gaps in providing a response to the SRHR information needs of AGYW and reducing their vulnerability to SGBV.

In addition to a National Strategic Framework, Nigeria released a National HIV Strategy for Adolescents and Young People in 2016, which provides a set of guidelines co-created with young people. This recognizes negative provider attitudes towards young people and their sexual activities, limited access to youth-friendly services as being key challenges preventing young people from taking up sexual health services. Most relevant to this, it also recognizes lack of education by parents/guardians on sexuality and reproductive health due to negative perceptions concerning youth sexuality education ad socio- cultural biases. This results in the adults around them, including parents and teachers being themselves ill-equipped and uncomfortable discussing sexuality. As a result, many adolescents live with huge knowledge gaps concerning their reproductive health. This accounts for some of the reasons why AYPs despite their elevated risks do not have access to a comprehensive education on their sexuality and tend to rely on their peers or experiences. This “by chance” approach to sexuality education gravely endangers the health of adolescents, diminishes their potential and compromises their safe and healthy transition to adulthood. Every young person has the right to be healthy, to have access to services and to have control in decision making. When the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents are recognized, for example, by giving age-appropriate information about sexual and reproductive health issues, it safeguards their future choices.

As part of building the agency of AGYW in Kaduna, Nigeria, EVA desires to bridge the communication gaps between mothers and their daughters/wards on SRHR/SGBV information. EVA supported young girls to organize an intergenerational experience sharing forum in their communities during which the young girls engaged their mothers in pertinent conversations that proved to be lively and engaging to both parties. The conversations were candid and non-judgmental. Given the essential role parents play in shaping their children’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, the aim was to alleviate the discomfort around this particular subject, foster parent-child communications on sexuality, promote confidentiality and improve the AGYW’s ability to advocate for their cause to others. In total, 75 young girls were in attendance with 42 mothers across the communities.

To mark the 16 days of Activism against SGBV in November, EVA also supported the AGYW to hold community rallies, sensitizing and engaging their communities on SGBV. For many of these young girls, it has given them exposure to champion for and create change in bigger and more relevant spaces.

EVA successfully scaled up activities into a 4th new community in addition to the previous three we were working in. Community influencers who were culled from a selection of religious and social leaders in the community, have been trained on girl’s rights and gender based violence issues and are regularly supported to conduct community level activities within the community creating awareness on these issues. Safe space facilitators who will also champion peer to peer education in the community were also trained.

Lastly, one key impact this project hopes to achieve is the support of underprivileged AGYW in school by providing scholarly materials and other school essentials leveraging on the free Education policy adopted by Kaduna state government. EVA has successfully provided support to 30 AGYW and are finalizing plans to support an additional 15 in this new term who were identified with the help of the newly trained facilitators. EVA has experienced great rewards in working with Adolescent girls and young women and building their agency, giving them a voice and strengthening their capacity to have a say concerning their reproductive health, teaching them life skills and supporting them to carry out advocacy campaigns in their communities and champion their cause. With continuous support, we hope to scale up activities into one more community and support more girls in school.

Inter-generational experience sharing forum
Inter-generational experience sharing forum
training new safe space facilitators
training new safe space facilitators
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Students Supported with books
Students Supported with books

According to a 2017 UNICEF report on Education in Nigeria, Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children and about 60% of these out-of-school children are estimated to be girls. Although statistics show that Girls’ primary school attendance has been improving in recent years due to increased awareness campaigns and advocacy for girl child education, this has not been the case for girls from the poorest of households.

In Kaduna state, the government has made education free for girls at the primary and secondary level. However, studies conducted show that young girls in the state still face challenges and barriers to getting an education some of which include inability to afford other surcharges asides from the school fees such as school uniforms and books, intimidating environments, cultural disadvantages and so many others. EVA initiated a “Back-to-School” drive for girls in 3 communities in Kaduna in addition to the safe space sessions that have been running which are aimed at giving them access to accurate and non-judgmental information on SGBV, life-skills, emotional support and the opportunity to develop solidarity with one another. The “Back-to-School” initiative sought to address some of the barriers to being enrolled and remaining in school specifically the issue of lack of funds to pay for school necessities like books and uniforms. 30 beneficiaries were provided with Textbooks, school uniforms and other school necessities to support their education pursuits into public schools in their localities. To achieve sustainability, EVA encouraged beneficiaries to leverage on the vocational skills they had acquired in previous workshops during the course of the project. EVA also works closely with the school and communities to ensure that these girls stay in school.

In recognizing that building the agency and life skills of girls can improve the chances that they remain in school, get an education and graduate, as well as improve their confidence and access to important tools to navigate the various stages of life, EVA commemorated its “International day of the Girl Child” in 6 all-girls schools. Taking its cue from this year’s theme “Girl Force: Unscripted, Unstoppable”, 260 girls were reached in 6 schools across 3 communities with empowering information and material. These adolescent girls were also engaged in active discussions concerning challenges that they face to improve their confidences and promote a consciousness of their rights. They were educated on the existence of the sexual assault and referral center (SARC), and its duty to provide free medical care and counseling among other things to survivors of SGBV. They were encouraged to reach out for help if they experienced harassment or molestation.

With continuous support from donors, we hope to increase our reach by extending the safe spaces to more communities and be able to identify more girls who are willing to go back to school.

Pupils in Tudun Wada learn life skills
Pupils in Tudun Wada learn life skills
Engagement on Girl empowerment for lDGC
Engagement on Girl empowerment for lDGC
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60% of out of school children in Nigeria are girls. Many of them who do enroll, drop out early. Low perceptions of the value of education for girls and early marriages are among the reasons (UNICEF report on Education statistic in Nigeria). Some northern states have laws that prohibit the withdrawal of girls from school. Kaduna state, in particular, has made education free for girls at the primary and secondary level

It was of the essence to rouse the consciousness of all stakeholders including potential targets (young women and girls) and duty bearers ( government authorities especially the ministry of education) to ensure full support and participation in building the agency of young women and girls in the communities. EVA selected 15 community influencers from the 3 communities where we work. The selection was based on their commitment towards ending violence against women and girls. EVA organized capacity building for the influencers on sexual and gender-based violence, the laws that promote and protect the rights of adolescent girls and young women including the right to education,  the importance of girl child education, harmful traditional practices especially early marriage and its consequences. The trained influencers were supported to do community level outreaches in different areas of the community, targeting different groups. This is to ensure that every member of the community understands the importance of supporting and encouraging girl child education as well as the provisions that have been made in the law to support every girl to get a basic education. 

The trained influencers which include religious leaders, traditional leaders, women leaders, health workers, teachers, etc held different outreaches in different places targeting a different audience, examples were mosques, schools, village square, women meetings, meetings with young men and boys, etc. Through the outreaches, we have been able to reach about 1200 men, 144 young men and boys, and 157 girls and women. 

EVA recently conducted an impact assessment meeting with our community safe space facilitators who testified that the young girls in the communities are more willing to be in school. With continuous support from donors, we hope to reduce the rate of early marriage in those communities as we help and support the adolescent girls and young women to go to school and remain in school


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Education as a Vaccine is working on a project to build the agency of Adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). Through this project, 28 adolescent girls and young women have been trained on sexual and reproductive health issues, including gender-based violence as well as the platforms that exist for reporting cases of sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV). The AGYW were selected from 3 different communities in Kaduna State and are between the ages of 15 to 24 years. Due to increased vulnerability of girls who do not have education and skills, the capacity building incorporated vocational training activity where the girls and young women were taught how to make liquid soap to help them build their skill to be self-reliant.

During this quarter, 18 of the facilitators have been able to reach 180 other AGYW in the communities with sexual and reproductive health information, promoting their right to bodily autonomy and their understanding of SGBV issues. EVA has also supported the facilitators to step down the skills acquired during the vocational training to their different cohorts. Through the safe space approach, the girls are able to discuss issues that affect them in their various communities and report back to EVA for more support.

With continuous support and your kind donations, EVA will work with Kaduna state ministry of women affairs to link the AGYW to other opportunities that exist in the state to increase their access to services. These donations will also help to enroll some of these girls who are willing to go back to school.


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Organization Information

Education as a Vaccine

Location: Abuja, FCT - Nigeria
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @EVA_Nigeria
Project Leader:
Chinelo Frank
Abuja, FCT Nigeria
$6,471 raised of $10,000 goal
 
50 donations
$3,529 to go
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