The empowerment of young women and adolescent girls and the advancement of their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) are foundational for a prosperous and sustainable world. Young women and girls must be enabled to make informed decisions about their own bodies, relationships, and families, to improve their health, well-being, and opportunities to achieve their full potential. In turn, these positive outcomes produce a ripple effect that benefits families, communities, and society, today and in the future.

Globally, progress has been made towards improving the sexual and reproductive rights of young women and girl with significant reductions in adolescent birth rates over the past three decades. However, in spite of greater awareness of the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents, some key issues have not improved. In Sub- Saharan Africa, including in Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda,  adolescent girls and young women continue to face serious barriers in accessing safe, quality, adolescent-friendly and gender-responsive sexual and reproductive services. Adolescent boys and young men also face age and gender related barriers, including harmful social norms related to masculinity, that limit contribute to adverse outcomes for women and girls.

girls smiling at camera
Image: WaterAid/ Srishti Bhardwaj

To address these challenges, WaterAid is implementing the Sexual Health and Reproductive Education (SHARE) project in Ghana, Mozambique, and Uganda, with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. The five-year SHARE project will advance gender equality and increase the enjoyment of health-related human rights by the most marginalized and vulnerable right-holders in these three countries, particularly adolescent girls and young women. Led in consortium by Right to Play, the project will take an intersectional approach to equipping young people make informed decisions about their reproductive health.

SHARE plans to enhance the SRHR of just over 272,000 young women and men between the ages of 10-24 in Ghana, Mozambique and Uganda, of whom 55% are female. An additional 633,029 people will be reached indirectly, including health professionals, educators, and civil society stakeholders.

The project will work to achieve the following objectives:

  • Increase the equitable use of gender-responsive SRHR information and services, particularly among adolescent girls and young women.
  • Improve the delivery of gender-responsive, inclusive services to address SRHR needs of adolescents and young women
  • Enhance social action by key stakeholders to advocate for adolescent-friendly, gender-responsive SRHR services and policies.

As part of the SHARE program, we will leverage our experience acquired over decades to ensure that WASH supports the sexual and reproductive health of young women and girls, in schools, communities, and healthcare centers. It will support youth to keep themselves safe from disease, avoid early or unwanted pregnancies, and become advocates for their own health, well-being and rights.

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) play a critical role in achieving SRHR for women and girls, especially as it relates to personal health. Through SHARE, we will rehabilitate WASH systems in healthcare facilities in the project countries. This includes: installing handwashing units to prevent the spread of disease; restructuring sanitation facilities to ensure that toilets are inclusive and gender sensitive; training healthcare workers in healthcare facilities and in the community on WASH infection prevention and control; installing safe waste disposal systems; and, training healthcare workers on proper waste management. In order to ensure the sustainability of the work, we will be working with local governments to support the development of bylaws focused on sustainability and inclusivity of WASH infrastructure.