HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health Care Project
Reproductive Health Care and Empowerment: Women, Protect your Health and Future (Ongoing Project)
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:
Reproductive Health Care Services are mostly absent for young Cameroonians (see Engen 2013). Societal taboos concerning raising the topic of sexuality, especially for woman, worsens the situation. Reproductive rights and services are crucial for the fight against poverty and for attaining gender-equality in the society. The use of contraceptives among young Cameroonians, especially women, remains low: Only 14% of Cameroonian women use modern contraceptive methods, such as sterilization, male or female condoms, hormonal pills, or injections and implants (The World Bank 2011; UNFPA Cameroon 2012, 10). Out of those, the condom is the most popular.
As a Consequence, the spread of sexual diseases, such as HIV, as well as early pregnancies constitute a common phenomenon in Cameroon. According to a study from the WHO from 2008-2012, about 29,9% constitute pregnancies under the age of 18 years old. Such early pregnancies often lead to the persuasion of abortions, which are mostly executed by unskilled providers. Early pregnancies equally aggravate possibilities of higher education or economic independence.
The spread of HIV/AIDS amongst youths has been a largely debated topic in Cameroon over many years, yet the fact that many young people get infected everyday with this disease is proof that there is enormous work left to be done on the ground. While attaining maturity and thus becoming sexually active, girls/women are particularly vulnerable.
Many factors contribute to the rapid expansion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cameroon with the leading role played by low condom use that stems from the shame that is associated with sexually active women. Women are supposed to remain in the sphere of the household, are perceived as inferior to the men in many ways and thus are perceived as the weaker sex, that needs to adapt to the men’s needs. As a result of the few economic opportunities available to women and the great power differential with men, they do not have the power to demand safer sex. Most women/girls tend to see the buying of condoms as a taboo as such, out of the shame of being stigmatized for being sexually active; they are forced to succumb to the preference of the men/boys, whom may decide in most cases not to use these condoms and thereby exposing them to high risk of disease contraction.
According to the National AIDS Control Committee Central Technical Group in their September 2010 Report, Cameroon’s HIV prevalence rate is estimated at 5.1 percent: the highest rate for the West and Central Africa sub-region, thereby slows economic development efforts and erodes the social fabric throughout sub-Saharan Africa.The National AIDS Control Committee/Central Technical Group (CNLS/GTC) in 2010 also estimates that there are 141 new HIV infections per day in Cameroon, which means six newly infected persons each hour, every day with women more likely to be HIV positive than men. Roughly three in five (60%) PLHIV are women. Thus, young women are especially vulnerable to HIV infection.Young women represent 7 in 10 of all youth ages 15–24 who are HIV positive.
Another issue that goes along with the low use of condoms is unwanted and early pregnancies. As observed by many anthropological studies (see Johnson Hanks 2002, 2005), many young women become pregnant while still attending school. As a result, they often drop out of school or have to give their child into the care of someone else. Often women get abandoned by their current boyfriend or lover ones they get pregnant and have to bear the task of raising the child by themselves and their families. The use of condoms gives women the opportunity to decide for themselves at what moment in time they want to become mothers. This is an important factor for the autonomy and self-determination of women in the society.
- The project “Reproductive Health Care and Empowerment: Women protect your Health and Future” is the brain child of Bridgers Association Cameroon that is aimed at creating an awareness on the proper usage of condoms amongst sexually active youths, especially girls, for the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and put an end to the stigmatization and shaming that goes along with buying condoms.
- This awareness would be done within school milieus as such; the targeted audience would be students in four secondary and three higher institutions in the Center Region (Yaoundé) of Cameroon within the period of one month and half. That is from April 1st to May 14th 2019. Then, on a long run, we plan to target 5000 Students in about 20 diffierent educational institutions and we want to achieve this until March 2020.
- We have the goal to change mindsets of young girls to have full control over their sexual lives in relation to the use of condoms and shun every trace of stigma that goes with the buying and negotiations of condoms usage during sexual intercourse.
- We aim at engaging young boys to collaborate with young girls in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDs.
- We have the vision to promote the reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst five thousand (5000) young Cameroonians that fall within the age range of 15-24 through our project.
- Furthermore, we wish to raise awareness of the self-determination of a Women’s body, so that she can decide herself at what moment in time they want to become mothers, so that they are able to follow other trajectories first, if desired.
Please, help us to realize this project. You can donate here https://gogetfunding.com/women-protect-your-health-and-future/ We will be grateful for any donation. Alternatively, you can share it among your friends and social media networks.