South Sudan: My Body, My Right, My Future
Together with YWCA South Sudan, Horyzon is building up the new project "My Body, My Right, My Future" and supports young people on their way out of poverty. Through sexual education, provision of hygiene articles and access to contraceptives, youth pregnancies are reduced and thus future prospects are created.
Background South sudan and Programme Environment
South Sudan - The youngest state in the world has already had a turbulent history. After more than 20 years of civil war, South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011 and constituted itself as a separate state. However, just one year after the founding of the state, the country sank into a severe civil war in which rival ethnic groups fought for the political leadership of the young country. Between 2013 and 2018, according to official figures, almost 400,000 people were killed and almost 2.5 million South Sudanese were displaced to neighbouring countries. In the midst of this humanitarian crisis, famine further exacerbates the suffering of the population. People in South Sudan live from agriculture, but displacement and flooding have resulted in hardly any food being grown or livestock being kept.
Hunger is not the only consequence of the conflict. Due to the lack of prospects and the many cases of sexual violence, as well as cultural and social taboos on the subject of sexual education, teenage pregnancies are widespread. These are highly problematic for both mothers and children: around 80% of maternal deaths in South Sudan are due to teenage pregnancies and infant mortality is around 50% higher for teenage pregnancies than for pregnant women between the ages of 20 and 29. However, such early pregnancies also entail economic risks. For example, girls from the poorest social classes in Yambio are three times more likely to become pregnant before their 18th birthday. This, in turn, means that girls usually do not complete their schooling and lack appropriate future prospects. Underage mothers are thus disadvantaged throughout their lives.
The project "My body, My Right, My Future" by YWCA South Sudan and Horyzon breaks this cycle. Young people in Yambio learn what sexual and health rights they have and what family planning methods they can use. Through better access to contraceptives and hygiene products, taboos are broken down and the participation of the young people in school lessons is strengthened. Village talks and radio talk shows are used to sensitise further sections of the population to the issue of sexual violence and contraception.
At the two locations Yambio and Maridi, the Horyzon project reaches 12,000 beneficiaries annually: young people between the ages of 10 and 19, teachers, village elders, health workers, as well as children and young people who have dropped out of school. Other people are reached through multiplication activities such as village talks or radio talk shows.
In the long term, the programme will enable young people to make more autonomous decisions in their life planning. They are encouraged to continue attending school and to use family planning methods in a responsible way. In addition, they are empowered to recognize sexual and gender-based violence and to lead equal relationships.
- Motherhood in childhood; Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy, UNFPA 2013
- Analysis YWCA South Sudan
- Women Deliver and The Population Council. Having a Child Before Becoming an Adult: Exploring the Economic Impact in a Multi-Country Analysis. New York: Women Deliver, 2019.
Activities & Effects
Sexual and gender-based violence
- Conversations with community members about sexual violence
- Training of social workers in the treatment of victims of sexual violence
- Training young people in methods of safe sexual intercourse
- Psycho-social support for victims of sexual violence
Sexual and gender-based violence is reduced
Education and sexual and reproductive health rights
- Installation of water tanks at schools and provision of sanitary napkins
- Education of girls and boys in (menstrual) hygiene and sexual education
- Training of caretakers and teachers youth friendly treatment and communication
- Organization of intergenerational dialogues on the topic of sexual and reproductive health rights
- Vocational counselling at various schools
- Dialogues with government representatives and village leaders on their role in promoting youth rights.
- Training village leaders as ambassadors for sexual and reproductive health rights
- Radio talk shows on sexual and reproductive health rights
- Capacity building for basic human rights
Youth know their sexual and reproductive health right and build up long term livelihoods
- Training of health staff in communication, counselling and support in family planning
- Radio talk show sensitization for the use of contraceptives
- Provision of contraceptives and demonstration of condom use
Young people have access to good health care (including prevention measures) provided by qualified staff.
Awareness raising and health rights
- 650 students and adolescents participated in health clubs in schools and villages in Yambio and in Maridi. In 2021, 13 of the total 20 health clubs have been established with support from YWCA South Sudan.
- At village meetings, 113 reference persons were sensitized about SGBV and sexual reproductive health rights. Addressing these issues in such a setting promoted intergenerational dialogue on these taboo topics. In addition, experts from the YWCA Yambio provided information on various aspects of sexual and reproductive health, sexual and gender-based violence, and contact points for victims on talk shows on local radio stations.
- 18 government representatives were also sensitized to the above-mentioned issues during an information event.
- 1179 students took part in an informative event about their right to go to school and the prospects they have when they graduate. Among other things, they were given an insight into various professions and further education.
- 27 people affected by SGBV were accompanied by YWCA South Sudan counselors and supported by the relevant authorities. In addition, 30 social workers were trained in the treatment and accompaniment of victims of sexual violence.
- Young people can easily access and learn about SGBV, sexual health and rights. They also know their basic rights (e.g. the right to go to school).
- People around adolescents recognize the link between adolescent pregnancy, schooling, and poverty and are sensitized to the importance of proactively addressing and addressing the above issues. They also better understand their role in promoting child and adolescent rights.
Access to health care and education
- 50 teachers attended training and learned how to better address the needs of adolescents and how to incorporate topics related to sexuality and sex education in the classroom.
- 30 social workers and counselors were trained in sexual health to support young couples in family planning.
- 974 young women received reusable sanitary towels so that they can continue to attend school during their menstruation.
- 70 young people in Yambio learned more about hygiene in workshops. This benefited both the fight against the pandemic and the prevention of sexually transmittable diseases.
- 148 adolescents and young married couples attended the workshop on contraception and family planning.
- Qualified personnel (social workers, teachers, health workers) know how to educate adolescents and their role in making adolescents aware of contraception and access to health care.
- Because young people, especially young women and their partners, know how to use contraception and where to get it, they stay in school longer.
Sexual and gender-based violence
- 30 community members took part of a village discussion about gender-based violence.
- 2 audio plays were recorded by YWCA Yambio and sent to Radio Yambio FM where they were regularly played as advertisement with the goal to support women in their choice against child marriage and for their right of self-determination.
- 20 social workers were trained to treat victims of sexual violence.
- YWCA Yambio sent experts to 2 talk shows hosted by Radio Yambio FM to discus and talk about sexual and gender-based violence with the goal to remove the taboo surrounding this topic and to share facts about sexual violence with adolescents. Furthermore the experts mentioned possible contact points for victims of sexual violence.
- 650 young people have learned more about hygiene in Yambio. This helped with the covid pandemic but also in preventing further spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally soaps and reusable sanitary towels were distributed.
- 30 social workers and advisors learned more about sexual health to be able to support young couples in their family planing.
- 33 reference persons participated in a training for communication and care of adolescents.
- 44 teachers took part of a training where they learned how to approach adolescents and their needs as well as how to apply the additional curriculum in their courses.
Education and sexual and reproductive health rights
- An additional curriculum was implemented which enables teaching about "healthy respectful sexual relationships with focus on family and friendship".
- Cultural structures which supress young women's right to self-determination were discussed in a village conversation. Furthermore girls were informed about their right of their own reproductive health.
- 57 village leaders participated in trainings where they learned about their essential roles in implementing human rights.
- 32 village leaders completed an educational training as messengers of the sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents.
- 44 villagers completed an educational training as trainers for family planing.
- 7 discussion groups with 500 adolescents were formed in the different neighbourhoods in Yambio where they can discuss moving themes like sexuality and health under frequent care by YWCA employees.
- 1 campaign to foster awareness about sexual and reproductive rights of adolescents was lanced in Yambio.
- At the intergenerational dialogue on sexual and reproductive health rights, 41 community members from different generations discussed how to promote respect for sexual and reproductive health rights.
Life skills training
- 25 young couples participated in trainings about methods of family planing.
- Because of the covid pandemic the start of the campaign about vocational guidance had to be postponed.