Getting parents to open up
In an ideal world, most parents want their children to only start engaging in sexual activities once they are married. Thus, it almost feels like a taboo for such guardians and parents to talk about sexual issues with their children.
But as 18 year old Assah Mhango from Chipyali Village in the Area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Amidu in Balaka District reveals, a lot of young people have not headed their parents’ wish to wait until marriage.
“Young girls of our generation are quite knowledgeable than was the case with the previous generation. In their days, parents could threaten children about sexuality, such as telling them that boys are dangerous and they could believe it, but this generation we have that feeling of wanting to try things,’’ she said.
Assah, who fell pregnant at the age of 16 but is now back in school doing Form 2 after delivering her baby, said considering the circumstances she underwent, she strongly feels contraceptives are vital for the youth.
For one Eda Major, who hails from Kalembo Village in Balaka, as a parent, after hearing of the importance of family planning methods among teenagers, she made a choice to encourage her children to embrace the same.
“I encouraged my daughter to take family planning methods because I wanted her to finish her education. My daughter is in Standard 8 now and aged 17. I even told my husband about the issue and we all agreed that this is best for her. It is not encouraging her to be having sex but we want her to fulfill her dreams.’’ she said.
In the same village, Agness Sumani said she decided to encourage her daughters to take contraceptions, knowing that young people these days are sexually active.
“Knowing that children of these days are sexually active, when my daughter was 15, I sat down with my daughter and I advised her to go to the facility and be advised accordingly of the methods,’’ she said.
A Medical Rehabilitation Clinician at Kalembo Health Centre in Balaka, Romeo Quinn Burton, told journalists during a media tour organised by Oxfam under Her Future Her Choice project that teenage pregnancies have dropped in the district.
Oxfam Programmes Coordinator for Her Future Her Choice project, Doreen Thom, said there is need for government and Civil Society Organisations to work together to promote Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the country.
“There were a lot of issues on teenage pregnancies and child marriages as well as information gap on reporting channels for Gender Based Violence among the community and it requires a concerted effort to address,’’ she said.
With funding from Canada’s International Development – Global Affairs Canada, Oxfam in Malawi in partnership with Centre for Alternatives for Victimised Women and Children (Cavwoc) and Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam) are implementing the project in Balaka and Lilongwe districts.
The project, among others, promotes access to Sexual Reproductive Health Service among adolescents so that they should remain in school.
Fpam Project Officer Esther Moyo said they are happy that the project is bearing fruits, considering that parents are now able to encourage their children to access sexual reproductive health services.
“It is exciting to note that in this district despite its culture, parents especially mothers are encouraging their girl children to take contraceptives so that they continue with education and attain their goals,’’ she said.