Haiti CCM Supports Youth Advocates for Female Adolescents’ Health and Rights

  • Published Date: August 2017
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In Haiti, girls and young women often lack information about sexual and reproductive health, their rights, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and available health services. Compounding this challenge, Haitians under the age of 18 often are not able to access confidential medical services and counseling without their parents being notified. Adolescent girls face particular risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) which leaves its survivors traumatized, stigmatized, and at a higher risk of infection.

Adolescents are an important population for Haiti’s efforts to address HIV/AIDS, and the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM)¬—which coordinates activities funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and malaria¬¬—engages and informs young women about their health and rights. When a group of women’s organizations asked the CCM’s women’s constituency to support advocacy and awareness-raising, the CCM approached the USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Governance project in Haiti (LMG/Haiti) for help as part of its ongoing support in strengthening engagement with civil society.

At a workshop conducted in Port-au-Prince from June 21-22, 2017, with LMG/Haiti support, 32 women activists, all between the ages of 18 and 30, were trained to counsel, inform, and assist girls and young women on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights and prevention of SGBV. After two days of rich and dynamic exchange of information and views, participants developed a list of priorities for improving the future of adolescent girls, protecting their health, and mobilizing young people to prevent SGBV. They also received information about risks of HIV infection and resources for prevention and treatment, and learned—many for the first time—about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and its link to cervical cancer.

Participants realized that the status of adolescent girls and women, and the prevalence of SGBV, are determined by norms and prejudices that are deeply rooted in Haitian society. “Often a girl cannot even recognize that she is being forced against her will,” declared one young activist. “We have to make girls more aware, but we must educate our male friends too.”

Recommendations developed at the workshop were incorporated into the Global Fund grants for HIV and TB for 2018-2020 that will be presented to the full CCM for follow-up. At the conclusion of the two-day meeting, Nadine Louis, who represents the women’s constituency on the CCM, thanked LMG/Haiti for “supporting this initiative that empowers young women and strengthens their commitment to promoting women’s health and women’s rights.”