Among the girls and women’s rights include the availability of quality sexual and reproductive health services.
The movement is a global drive founded in 2017 in Belgium. It works to empower politicians, organisations, and people- especially young people to work together in new ways to enable women and girls to be the ones to make decisions about their bodies, lives, health and futures.
Halima Lila, executive director of Hope Centre Tanzania, who is also the local coordinator of the movement underscored the need for collective efforts from stakeholders to improve reproductive health and rights services to women and girls which among other things will help reduce maternal deaths, improve lives and economy.
She said that despite significant actions taken by the government and various stakeholders to improve the accessibility, availability, and quality of sexual and reproductive health and rights, the services to young Tanzanians have not been fully realised.
Reports show that a good number of young people are engaging in high-risk sexual behavior, exposing themselves to high rates of teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortions and Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including HIV. Girls are at particular risk: 27 percent give birth before the age of 19 when their bodies have not fully developed to cope with the pressure of pregnancy and childbirth, exposing them to life-threatening health complications.
“So better reproductive health care, including family planning investment can bolster economies and contribute to sustainable development by empowering young women to complete their education, be more productive in their jobs, and earn higher incomes and increase savings and investments.”
According to Lila, 2019 is therefore an opportune moment to launch ‘SheDecides’ in Tanzania as it also marks the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo in 1994. 179 world leaders reached a consensus and adopted a programme of action, which enshrined individual reproductive rights as a basic human right.
For her part, assistant director of gender section in the Ministry of health, community development, gender, elderly and children Grace Mwangwa commended the launch of the movement saying that it will help complement the government’s goals of improving lives of women and girls through fighting violence, mortality rate and improving access to education among others.
“Currently, there is a nationwide programme to educate young people on reproductive health as well as fighting gender inequality while enabling girls to be free from harm, forced marriages, genital mutilation and other related challenges,” she said.
Rahim Mohamed, one of the youth whom attended the launch said that the movements will enable young people across the country to continue interacting and reflect on the challenges surrounding their sexual and reproductive health and rights services.