NAIROBI, 17 February 2020 – Women and girls in informal urban settlements continue to bear the brunt of unsafe abortions from predatory quacks even as the government makes empty boardroom promises to improve the state of reproductive health in the country.
This was one of the outcomes from the recently concluded 9th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights (ACSHR) held in Nairobi and hosted by the African Gender and Media Initiative (GEM) Trust.
The conference was convened to identify promising/best practices on policy and actions that respect, promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in urban informal settlements (slums).
Victor Rasugu, the Executive Director at the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) noted that “young people in slums bear the brunt of reproductive health challenges including high rates of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, unsafe abortion, and poor maternal and child health outcomes.”
“For example, a recent study in Nairobi slums showed that 68% of adolescent girls between the ages of 12 and 22 years, who had ever been pregnant were out of school,” he said.
Participants from Kenya urged the government to increase financing especially for youth friendly centers to ensure that young people access information and services conveniently; and to ensure accountability in the use of these funds.
Mr Rasugu also called on the government to meaningfully and inclusively engage young people in policy making processes to articulate their SRHR needs and build capacity of youth for this purpose.
Dr Uwemedimo Uko Esiet, who was the Convener of the conference, said that inadequate provision of information on sexual and reproductive health, especially to the young, has continued to perpetuate myths around issues such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and gender-based violence.
“Many countries in Africa could not achieve the Millennium Development Goals and we are at the threshold once more to ensure that we meet up with the Sustainable Development Goals. We, therefore, cannot afford to leave behind our women and girls who unfortunately are living in the urban informal settlements,” he said.
The recommendations from the Conference will be presented for consideration of the Policy organs of the African Union Commission as well as those of the relevant Regional Economic Communities (RECs).