Article By Esther
Among many challenges that girls and women in Kenya face is lack of access to sexual and reproductive health rights. They are disproportionately burdened by early pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV and early marriages yet have limited voice over their bodies. Great progress has been made over years on empowering and strengthening bodily autonomy of girls and women however the level of reach and transformation in rural communities remains low.
Gender equality will be achieved when women have absolute control over their sexuality. Girls and women should have equal voice about everything in the arrangement of human affairs in our communities, the meaning, purpose and activities and their own lives, inalienable rights to choose their sexuality and loving partners as long as it’s between consenting adults, reprisal and other forms of discrimination.
Enabling women to make informed reproductive health choices without interference of rules created by the patriarchy system is a form of liberating them and contributing to gender equality. The limited understanding among men about reproductive health rights remains the biggest stumbling block to progress. The words are often misunderstood as partners being promiscuous. Reproductive rights include access to information and services such as pre-post-natal care, proper nutrition, cervical care, contraceptives, and safe abortion. Government, civil society organizations and all relevant partners should work towards going beyond and reaching the unreached communities in the rural areas, provide accurate information in localized language about reproductive health rights and establish mechanisms to enjoy them.