Introduction to SRHR
What is a rights-based Sexual and Reproductive Health approach?
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) propose that everyone is entitled to equal opportunities and access to services related to SRHR. This enables individuals to have a safe, satisfying sexual life and bodily autonomy to ensure freedom from coercion, violence or discrimination.
Conceptualising sexual and reproductive health (SRH) as a human right is increasingly acknowledged as central to improving SRH. The international community have recognised that to guarantee the sustainability of improved SRH, the core societal values which violate SRHR need to be addressed, alongside holding government bodies and institutions to account.
UN experts have stated that the right to SRH is not only an integral part of the general right to health, but is fundamentally linked to many human rights, including the right to education, work and equality, as well as the right to life, privacy, freedom from torture and individual autonomy. However, as a result of the numerous legal, procedural, practical, social and cultural barriers, many people around the world are still unable to access good quality information and services to safeguard their individual SRH.
Why target young people?
Globally, young people are acutely vulnerable to SRHR abuses, with women and girls holding the burden of disease associated with SRHR . Countless girls and young women are coerced into unwanted sex or marriage, putting them at increased risk of unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, unsafe abortions, and dangerous childbirth which could result in co-morbidities such as vaginal fistula, or even maternal mortality. Furthermore, the physical results of SRHR abuses accompany psychological and social outcomes, including reinforcing gender stereotypes that limit social, political and economic participation of women.
Despite their high risk to SRH human rights abuses, too many young people around the world are unable to access reliable and good quality SRH information and services.
Nearly half of the population in Madagascar is under the age of 15
What is SEED Madagascar doing to help?
SEED Madagascar through Project Safidy has been working alongside the Ministry of National Education to develop a rights-based SRH curriculum to address the SRH risks facing young people in Madagascar.
A rights-based SRH education not only addresses topics related to the physical, mental and social well-being in all matters related to an individual’s sexual and reproductive system, but has a central focus on human rights. It encompasses ideas such as female empowerment, gender equality and bodily autonomy. This approach aims to ensure that at in an immediate sense, individuals have the necessary knowledge to enable good sexual and reproductive health. Additionally, and importantly, the approach seeks to foster a culture of sustainable behaviour change which gives individuals the tools and autonomy to have an understanding of their own rights and assert these in relation to SRH.
Why is this important in Madagascar?
With incomplete data collected on SRH in Madagascar and limited provision for sexual health education in Madagascar’s national curriculum up until now, there has been an absence of a central, standardised and effective means of delivering key sexual health messages and information to young people.
Cultural, logistical, procedural and legal barriers provide significant challenges in implementing a SRHR curriculum within Madagascar. However, with one in three girls having their first child before the age of 18, and a significant proportion of these girls not finishing school, there is a clear need for a robust and comprehensive SRHR framework.
Additionally, given that nearly half of the population of Madagascar are under the age of 15, it is more important than ever to ensure that young people have access to evidence-based information on SRHR. Failure to provide this would significantly put their sexual and reproductive health at risk, and as such be a direct violation of the human rights declarations ratified by Madagascar.