CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF ADOLESCENCE (CSA)

Stigma reduction can be achieved

A big sister from Ruiru narrates the attitude transformation she has experienced and witnessed so far in her community. She has been holding sessions right from the initiation of the SAFIRE project led her to interact with a number of young adolescent girls and their parents. Initially, she would get an average of two referrals in a month of young adolescent girls and an average of zero parents in a month seeking more information on family planning and reproductive health information in general. Among the pushback, she experienced from parents, was negative feedback insinuating that she is out to influence their children into bad company and irresponsible sexual behaviors. Stigma reduction has been one of the goals she has aimed to achieve since it has always been among the attitudes that influence the uptake of sexual reproductive health information and services among the demographic. With the training and capacity-strengthening offered by the project she put these newly acquired experiences and insights into work and they have greatly reaped positive results. She states that she continues to witness a turnaround of negative attitudes towards the information she has been sharing to positive and in some instances supportive hands from some of her community members. Adolescent young girls have now been approaching her, therefore, boosting the average number of referrals to seven in a month and an average of six parents in a month seeking information from her and requests of her to offer guidance and mentorship to their daughters, so as to eliminate their chances of falling victims to early unintended pregnancies and STI infections. “By these numbers, I’m able to rate the progress and clearly note that new positive attitudes are being formed and stigma among young adolescent girls and parents as well is greatly reducing” she also adds this has been the same with the rest of the big sisters in Ruiru. Stigma reduction can be fully achieved as She looks forward to a society where young adolescent girls can continue with their education and live healthy fulfilling lives without the worry of putting their lives on pause to first become parents at such an early age.

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