Thanks to a contribution of $19.6 million from the Government of Canada and close to $1 million from Oxfam Canada’s generous supporters, more than 370,000 marginalized and vulnerable young women and adolescent girls in Mozambique and Uganda will be supported to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) through the Stand Up for SRHR project. The project will be implemented by an innovative partnership between Oxfam Canada, Oxfam in Mozambique, Oxfam in Uganda, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Guttmacher Institute, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, and eight local organizations in Mozambique and Uganda.
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, made the announcement today. The project is part of the Government of Canada’s historic $700 million annual investment in SRHR, which Prime Minister Trudeau announced at the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver in June 2019.
Over its six-year duration, Stand Up for SRHR will work to ensure sexual and reproductive health services and information in project communities are of higher quality and more inclusive and accountable, supporting young women and adolescent girls to build their awareness of SRHR and services available to them. The project will help women, girls, men and boys model more positive attitudes towards SRHR and women’s rights. Local women’s rights organizations and youth led organizations will have the opportunity to strengthen their capacity to advocate for evidence-based, accountable, and equitable SRHR policies, legal frameworks and services.
Stand Up for SRHR will place particular emphasis on working with vulnerable rights holders, particularly adolescent girls and young women aged 15-29, and those with intersecting vulnerabilities due to their sexual or gender orientation. The project will raise awareness on key challenges faced by project participants, including sexual and gender-based violence and child and early forced marriage. It will build local health system capacity to provide quality services related to family planning, abortion, sexual health testing, prenatal care, and sexual and gender-based violence support. While the project will support local and grassroots activist organizations in Mozambique and Uganda, it will also work to engage Canadians on SRHR by providing support to youth-led sexual health and rights community mobilization and educational campaigns.
Adolescent girls and young women in Mozambique and Uganda face persistent challenges, inequitable gender and social norms, as well as traditional practices and taboos regarding sexuality that negatively impact their health and status. These lead to low use of contraceptives, high unmet needs for family planning, and high rates of teen pregnancy in both countries. Maternal mortality is prevalent, and unsafe abortion is a leading cause of hospitalization and maternal death in project communities.
“Adolescent girls and young women in Mozambique and Uganda, as well as other marginalized groups such as LGBTQI+, disproportionally face the burden of discrimination and inequality, and lack the freedom to make decisions and choices about their bodies,” said Lauren Ravon, Oxfam Canada’s Executive Director.
“We hope that through programs such as Stand Up for SRHR we can change this, shifting negative attitudes about SRHR, building capacity for quality SRHR services and information, and supporting women’s rights organizations and youth activists in their advocacy and mobilization for real change,” Ravon said.
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