Promoting Sexual and Reproductive Health Education through Exchange of Expertise
Improved sexual and reproductive health conditions for target communities through exchange of good practices.
Good health is a human right and a precondition for a meaningful life. Good health is important to fight poverty and ensure sustainable development and economic growth. Management of puberty changes, sexually transmitted infections and menstrual hygiene of youth and adolescents is a challenge in several least developed countries in South Asia. In Bangladesh and Nepal youth and adolescents are facing sexual and reproductive health challenges due to a lack of services and inadequate knowledge of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
The national curriculum in both countries includes sexual and reproductive health, however, religious and social taboos create an environment where issues of SRHR are associated with stigma, leading to a lack of basic health support, gender discrimination in education and negative psychosocial repercussions. These challenges are amplified by the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to these issues requires awareness-raising, quality education and significant behavioural change, to ensure that no one is left behind.
Towards a Solution
The project Promoting Sexual and Reproductive Health Education through Exchange of Expertise, owned and implemented by Agrogoti Sangstha in Bangladesh and Aawaaj in Nepal, and supported and facilitated by the Norwegian Agency for Exchange Cooperation (Norec), aims to diminish prevailing taboos associated with sexual and reproductive health and improve the transnational sexual and reproductive health conditions of youth and adolescents in Satkhira, Bangladesh, and Kathmandu, Nepal.
The key methodologies used for this project are systematic transnational cooperation, mutual exchange of professional staff and best practices, within a framework of institutional South-South and Triangular cooperation. The implementing partner organizations, Agrogoti Sangstha and Aawaaj, face similar transnational development challenges as other civil society organizations working with SRHR. Utilizing virtual platforms, the partners co-created the project using an innovative design built on reciprocity for both partners’ mutual benefit. The partners’ goals are to improve their capacities to implement projects and to enhance sexual and reproductive health education and knowledge in their target communities. The organizations exchange best practices on both management and policy, also achieving positive change in the culture and practices within the organizations. Recognition of the value of the partners’ knowledge in the partnership confers ownership, participation and sustainability of results. Ownership is further translated to the community level through a participatory approach ensuring long-term sustainable practices.
The project focuses on three areas of SRHR: menstrual hygiene management; sexually transmitted infections; and puberty education. The expertise developed through knowledge sharing is reflected in the individual organization’s intervention areas, bringing visible sustainable change at the community level, with strong local ownership.
In this collaboration, partners prioritize youth involvement. Young professionals are recruited for one-year intervals as a core input to the project; throughout the project period a total of 36 young professionals will be recruited. An additional 80 young volunteers have so far been capacitated as change agents on peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. This is an effective approach to disseminate information, break taboos, create mass awareness and develop sustainable conditions of SRHR. Using a participatory approach, the young professionals work together with teachers generating an educational environment that attends to SRHR of the youth and adolescents.
To facilitate conducive environments for implementing the project, Menstrual Management Corners, separate toilets and waste management systems are being established in ten educational institutions. The project has developed a complete training module on SRHR in three languages based on a collaborative analysis of transnational perspectives. The module has been accepted and replicated by various governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, increasing the sustainability of the project impact (SDG target 3.7).
The project model is effective and has among other successes resulted in five updated policies in each partner organization (SDG 17.16). Compared to a baseline of 25 percent, 75 percent of the organization’s staff have been capacitated to identify behavioural change in communities on issues related to SRHR (SDG 3.7). This has led to 36 percent of the target population in Satkhira, Bangladesh (baseline 9.7 percent) and 34.5 percent of the target population in Kathmandu, Nepal (baseline 5 percent) gaining adequate information on menstrual hygiene management, sexually transmitted infections and puberty education (SDG 3.7).
This model of reciprocal exchange of skilled personnel within a variety of sectors is a highly versatile model to upgrade skills, knowledge and capacity. It is inherently participatory and technically feasible. The model used in this project is replicable for similar organizations and easily adaptable for other South-South and Triangular cooperation efforts wishing to collaborate to overcome development challenges related to the SDGs.
URL of the practice
Primary SDG Targets
Secondary SDG Targets
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