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Connecting Young Women to Quality Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Services in their Communities in Côte d’Ivoire

Access to quality sexual and reproductive health services is an essential component to ensuring a good quality of life. This is particularly true for adolescent girls, for whom early pregnancy can quickly alter the trajectory of their lives—limiting the opportunities that are available to them and even becoming life-threatening. Globally, complications during pregnancy and childbirth are one of the leading causes of death among girls aged 15 to 19.  

In Côte d’Ivoire, where rates of adolescent pregnancies are particularly high, young women are often hesitant to access potentially life-saving sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services. This is particularly true among those who are out-of-school and who are also at higher risk of experiencing an early pregnancy. 

This reluctance is often reinforced through the attitudes and behaviours within their social networks of peers, parents, and community leaders who may share misconceptions about SRHR. Even in situations where young women do reach out for support, existing SRHR services in their community may not meet their unique needs.

How Communities are Responding to Improve Health Outcomes for Young Women

Across the country, communities are eager to step up and support the health of young women. But the SRHR system is complex and requires the engagement of many stakeholders, including young women themselves, in advancing solutions. Parents and teachers also have an important role to play.  

For example, there are many good practices currently underway at healthcare facilities across Côte d’Ivoire that are improving young women’s access to quality SRHR services. However, most facilities don’t have the time and resources to try new approaches, nor document and share what’s working well. 

Meanwhile, community-based organizations and schools have an important role to play in addressing misconceptions about SRHR. But they have noted barriers to accessing information, tools, and skills-building opportunities that would help them improve the delivery of campaigns and training.

Knowing how to allocate limited resources is also a significant challenge. Governments need to ensure that the right voices are at the decision-making table, and that SRHR planning is appropriately meeting the needs of young women. 

The Three Layers of Intervention to Overcome Barriers to Quality SRHR Services: Individual, Relational, Structural

Working with our expert partners in Côte d’Ivoire—including government ministries, community-based organizations, schools, youth groups and healthcare providers—we support interventions that target three key spheres of influence in a young woman’s decision to access quality SRHR services.

Individual: The Ability to Make Free and Informed Decisions

Through direct outreach on SRHR issues to young women and their peers, we aim to improve the sense of agency young women feel to make free and informed decisions about their health and to advocate for their unique needs within the health system.

Relational: A Supportive Network of Family and Friends

Through the delivery of multi-media campaigns, we aim to strengthen the social support young women receive to access SRHR from their peers, parents, and community leaders. With Farm Radio International’s innovative radio approach, our community partners will be able to establish listening groups among key members of the community to reflect on themes related to SRHR discussed in the campaigns, to help ensure awareness leads to action.

Structural: Inclusive, Accountable, and Readily Available SRHR Services

Through pilot testing, research and documentation, and the facilitation of local consultations we aim to strengthen the capacity of healthcare providers and governments to deliver inclusive and accountable SRHR services that meet the needs of adolescent girls. We are also connecting some of Canada’s brightest minds on SRHR to local healthcare providers to support the strengthening of technical skills of SRHR services delivery, thanks to our partner, Université Laval and skilled Canadian and local volunteers.

PASSERELLE (Projet d’appui à la santé sexuelle et reproductive pour elles en Côte d’Ivoire) is a five-year initiative (2022-2027) funded by Global Affairs Canada that aims to improve access to SRHR services for young women in Nawa and San Pédro regions of Côte d’Ivoire.

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