Awareness and training on sexual and reproductive health helping to remove taboo in DRC

Story

Awareness and training on sexual and reproductive health helping to remove taboo in DRC

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sexual and reproductive health is a sensitive issue.

Cuso local partner organization, Afia Mama has been working in all provinces of DRC to raise awareness, campaigning for the well-being of Congolese women, specifically in sexual and reproductive health.

Grâce-Divine Ingabire, a Burundian with a background as a medical doctor and a humanitarian manager, has been volunteering with Afia Mama since May 2022 assisting the organization’s 35 member staff with capacity building to address the topic with more confidence.

“The tools for enabling dialogue have been developed for the benefit of our partner and their staff who are doing an excellent job of relaying information at the community level,” said Grâce. “I am happy because I see signs of ownership of the tools. These actions will reduce unwanted pregnancies and marriages without consent. It is an excellent experience to give back through volunteering especially in a country other than the one you come from.”

Afia Mama is a partner in Cuso International’s Sharing Canadian Expertise for Inclusive Development and Gender Equality (SHARE) project. The project is raising awareness of sexual, reproductive, and maternal health, sexual and gender-based violence, and positive masculinity.

The success with Afia Mama has led to workshops being organized for other SHARE partners in the DRC focusing on sexual and reproductive health among youth and adolescents. The goal is to remove the taboo surrounding the topic among people aged 10 to 24. Participants discussed concerns around the right information to give young people with the increased competition from social networks.

The workshops are a springboard for conversations between parents, health providers and young people, prompting questions including who should inform young people and why we need to inform them, how to stop misinformation, and how to improve the reception of young people in health centres.

Questions about consent were also discussed, as well as gender equality and equity with accessing sexual rights for young people and establishing ways for everyone to know the laws protecting them.

“I understood that I must establish a dialogue with my children. Not to put them down when they ask questions, but rather to try to direct them to the right people to talk about it without judgement or guilt. And I also understood the importance of consent when it comes to this subject,” said one of the participants.