Attaining the highest possible level of health and well-being is a fundamental human right regardless of a person’s color, ethnic background, gender, age, ability or religion, class. These rights are stipulated in various international and regional instruments including the Maputo Protocol. Addressing the root causes of poor health among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), everyone, the woman, her family, and the whole community benefits. A healthy adolescent girl has a chance to fulfill her potential. She can decide how to live her life in the near and far future and work towards her own goals. She can contribute to her community in the ways that she chooses, and she can gain access to the resources she needs to have a healthy family, if she wants one. Winning these rights for every woman is important in itself, but there is an even larger benefit for all who surround her. Many great advances in medicines and technology to address women’s health problems already exist, yet millions of people especially young still suffer from preventable deaths and morbidities.
Kiambu is among the counties where the SAFIRE program is being implemented with the aim of addressing poor sexual reproductive health outcomes among AGYW including unsafe abortion. The program works towards improving health by bringing people together including AGYW (small, and big sister), male SRH champions, community health volunteers, and working closely with healthcare providers among other key role players in addressing common concerns around the sexual and reproductive health of young people.
A selected number of trained SRH champions referred to as Big Sisters have been running community sessions educating their peers and younger ones about reproductive health, providing referrals for services that were needed as a way of breaking down obstacles to good health. The Big Sister sessions in various sub-counties are now platforms that bring AGYW together, give them not just a chance to learn about their health rights and how to access them but also provide an opportunity to share their stories and experiences, and begin to take action. Agnes (Big Sister) Narrates how she Joined the program
When AGYW learn about their bodies and autonomy they can take better care of their health their whole life. Girls need this information before they start monthly bleeding and before they start having sex, so they can know how pregnancy happens, how to use birth control methods to prevent pregnancy, and how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. When and if a woman decides she is ready to become a mother, she is more likely to experience a healthy pregnancy and birth if she has access to contraceptives that enables her to decide when and how many children to have. This can help ensure that all pregnancies are wanted. Using family planning so there is enough time between pregnancies gives a woman’s body time to grow stronger again, and leads to safer pregnancies, healthier mothers, and children. Through the Big Sisters, SAFIRE program has ensured that AGYW within Kiambu receives not only accurate information about contraceptives but also access lifesaving, affordable, high quality, non-judgmental reproductive health services from vendors through referrals.
Jane (Big Sister) shares what drives her in assisting AGYW through the SAFIRE program