Young People’s Reproductive Sexual Health & Rights (YRSHR)

Young People’s Reproductive Sexual Health & Rights (YRSHR)

Young people (10-24 years) represent one third of India’s population. In this potential demographic dividend the burden of disease is increasing attributable to health and sexual right violations. MAMTA is a leading contributor in improving sexual and reproductive health of these groups, through the life cycle approach through gender, sexuality and rights as the guiding principles of the interventions. MAMTA primarily works under four intersecting domains, Comprehensive Sexuality Education; Adolescent Friendly Health Services; Addressing Harmful Traditional Practices like Early Child Forced Marriage; Changing Inequitable Gender Norms. Over two decades of promoting community empowerment as well as action along with informing national policy and programming, MAMTA has demonstrated how multi-sectoral interventions can contribute to essential sexual and reproductive rights realization. The youth friendly health services (the flagship program of Government of India) is being supported by MAMTA at various levels through technical inputs. MAMTA has been instrumental in designing and developing the Adolescent Friendly Health Center.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Young people in India bear a significant burden of poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including unmet need for family planning, early marriage and childbearing, maternal death, gender-based violence and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. MAMTA promotes comprehensive sexuality education through negotiation with community and focused involvement of men and boys. By engraining the adolescents through information and training to help foster equitable and healthier behaviours. MAMTA has been a key promoter for mainstreaming comprehensive education across policy frameworks by implementing programmes focused on creating positive attitudes among young people about sexuality and gender issues by clearing the cobwebs of myths and confusions.

Adolescent Friendly Health Services

Adolescence is a period of transition to adulthood and it is well known that the adolescents undergo various psycho-social changes during this period. As sexual maturation is a major physiological development during this period, it is required that the health care services responds while adopting youth friendly health services. Young people have the right to quality health care services therefore, it is essential that the adolescent health care services are friendly and cater to their needs without prejudice. The YRSHR implementation programmes of MAMTA are based on enhancing accessibility and strengthening of the services. MAMTA has played a catalyst role in establishment of safe space model for the young and adolescents by formation of Youth Information Center (YIC) and Gender Resource Centres. These are platforms which act as safe spots for vulnerable adolescent girls and boys to alleviate apprehensions and seek advice on sexual and reproductive health and rights in gender appropriate manner. MAMTA has advised health systems on strengthening of services.

Addressing Abusive Practices

Women and girls in India, especially from the marginalized communities experience discrimination, abuse and violation of their basic human rights. Practices such as early marriage, early pregnancy, female foeticide, dowry etc. continue to plague India. Socially accepted abuse underscores violence and discrimination. Consequentially, women and girls experience barriers to physical, emotional and psychological development. MAMTA promotes and advances female centric and community intervention models to empower individuals, communities by creating opportunities for dialogue on discriminatory and culturally inequitable gender norms and practices. MAMTA’s emphasis is on strengthening administrative systems for enforcement of laws and policies, community mobilization, empowerment of young people, networking and strengthening capacities of CSOs.

Changing Inequitable Gender Norms

While working with young people MAMTA understood the significant concerns which relate to sexual and reproductive health issues, and are unarticulated and un-addressed due to lack of information and services, parental/community support and understanding.. MAMTA’s interventions promote equitable norms, and has lead to significant reductions in HIV and STI risks among the marginalized and vulnerable adolescent communities in India. In our experience talking about inequitable gender norms in rural settings, especially which define masculinity is crucial as a prevention strategy. Group education interventions which MAMTA promotes, through its interventions influence young men’s and community gatekeepers’ attitudes towards progressive gender roles.