Adolescent girls empowered on life skills vocation for reproductive health benefits

Determined to see that adolescent girl child enjoy the full advantage of reproductive health benefits across the country, an NGO, Society for Family Health (SFH) has commenced skills and empowerment programme Towards intensifying innovative efforts in meeting Nigeria’s set target of achieving 27 per cent contraceptive prevalence rate at the end of the year 2020,

Director of the programme titled ‘The 9ija Girls A360 Project’, Hajia Fatima Mohammed while speaking at one of the centres at the Ikotun Local Council Development Area of Lagos State said, that, “the idea of the project is to give sufficient skills and empowerment to young girls of the teenage years to ensure they are adequately prepared to look after their reproductive health”.

The Director according to a release made available to Journalists in Bauchi said that the empowerment package includes, Life Skills for trade to make money, skills to prepare for relationships, reproduction and birth spacing or family planning as well as the health components, which enables the young girls to understand how their body functions for reproduction so as to maintain healthy living always.

Fatima Mohammed also noted that there is no longer any pretence that many young girls who are married early or become pregnant when not prepared and have no skills to enable them to take care of themselves or contribute to the family income, often end up becoming a burden to themselves and the society.

According to her, “Principally, the SFH A360 project has components of Family Planning, Behaviour Change, Cultural Orientation /Context and meaningful youth engagement. In the project, the idea is to ensure young girls of sexually active ages (15-19) have access to modern contraception relevant and accessible to adolescent girls with unmet needs”.

She also explained that community social mobilisers who know the girls encourage them to visit the centres for skills acquisition (such as tye and dye, shoe and slippers making, soap making, bead making among other empowerment programmes).

Some of the girls who came to the Youth Acquisition Centre were seen learning turban making, bead and print designs and during the session on Love and Health, freely asked questions around issues of reproductive health, menstrual cycles, hygiene and relationships.

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A Provider at the centre, Paulina Adeyemi in her late 20’s said she freely relates with the young girls who can call her for private discussions after they have been to the centre for the empowerment programmes learnt some life coaching skills but still need a confidant to talk to.

Some mothers were seen coming to get information during the Mothers’ session which according to Paulina help improve communication skills between mothers and their daughters.

Modinat Abisoye is a 45-year-old trader who has two girls ages 18 and 16 noted that before attending one of the Mothers’ Sessions, she never tried to engage her daughters in conversation around relationships and reproductive health issues.

“I assumed the girls will pick up the right education from School because nobody taught me these things when I was growing up. But since I came to the 9ja Girls Empowerment programme on invitation from a friend, I have learnt why it is important to be the first love for my daughters. I can talk to them now and they confide in me”.

Mrs Oladapo Olanrewaju is another 50-year-old School Teacher with two daughters ages 20 and 18.

She expressed delight that the experience gathered at the centre made her introduce her younger daughter to become a member of the Teens Club.

“My 16-year-old daughter has acquired skills in beads making and make-up artistry. She makes beads she sells and helps dress up women and tie their headgear at parties. Aside, she knows how to shun unnecessary male admirers and confide in me at any attempt of molestations”

15-year-old IfeOluwa Owolabi with the consent of her mother, Abike has been a regular beneficiary of skills acquisition at the centre.

“Right now, I am learning to be a make-up artist as well as how to make air freshener and beads. I actually love to be a make-up artist so I make money also from tying gele (head tie) for fees”, said IfeOluwa.

The attraction that kept IfeOluwa close to the centre which makes her visit thrice a week for two hours is not only about the skills she is privileged to pick.

“Before now, I used to feel lots of pain when it comes to my monthly period and I had no idea of what to do. I told the friend who brought me here and during a session of Love and Health, I was told what to do.

“The various methods such as Pills, Injectable, Condoms and other Long-Lasting Methods are available to such girls who need them to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections”, said Paulina.

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