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Mozambique: Adolescent Girls Empowered to Claim their Rights to Family Planning


“Now I am an empowered young woman. I know how to protect myself and to stand up for my rights that I didn't know I had before”, shares Marcia (19 years). Marcia is one of the approximately 100,000 girls and young women reached by the Government-led sexual and reproductive health and rights initiative “Rapariga Biz” since its inception in May 2016.


Many adolescent girls in Mozambique lack information about contraceptives and their rights to exercise full control over their bodies, which is reflected in the low Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) of 14,1% among adolescents between 15-19 years as well as the high rate of teenage pregnancy, currently at 46% among the 15-19 year olds (IMASIDA, 2015).


“I hadn't heard of contraceptives before I met the mentor in my community and became part of Rapariga Biz”, explains Marcia. She was 17 years old, out-of-school and in the 4th month of her pregnancy when she joined Rapariga Biz. She was in a forced marriage, also supported by her mother, and often forced to have sex with her husband against her will. She felt alone, with no one to turn to.

Challenging Social and Gender Norms

Entrenched social and gender-based norms and roles influence adolescents’ and young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and empowerment, and especially discriminate against and marginalize girls and young women.


Through its holistic and integrated human rights-based approach, Rapariga Biz aims at reversing this situation and restoring the reproductive justice[1] among adolescent girls and young women: “we believe that the empowerment of adolescent girls and young women begins with having control and agency of their body”, says Andrea Wojnar, UNFPA Resident Representative in Mozambique.


Evidence from the first two years of implementation has shown that the supportive presence of a mentor is transformative for the empowerment and personal development of the target group. “My mentor is my everything. She was there for me during difficult situations. She accompanied me to the youth-friendly services (SAAJ) to consult a nurse on the use of contraceptives. She also encouraged me to return to school and to go after my dreams”, shares Marcia who dreams about working in a bank to be able to sustain herself and her daughter.


Empowered to Make Healthy Decisions


Rapariga Biz is targeting girls and young women between 10-24 years of age in 20 districts in two provinces in Mozambique with technical assistance from UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF and UN Women and with funding from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). At the heart of the holistic and integrated human rights-based approach is the mentorship. The program has already mobilized and trained 2999 young women as mentors, who each work with 30 younger girls and young women in community safe spaces on a weekly basis during 4 months - making up a total of 90 per year.


Through the weekly sessions, the mentors are trained to address and discuss issues as sexual and reproductive health, rights, citizenship, participation and life skills such as communication, negotiation, decision making, confidence etc.


“My mentor taught us to stand up for ourselves and to make healthy decisions. Now I know how to say no and using contraceptives is my right”, says Marcia.


Her mentor Jorgina is proud to see her transformation from suffering in her marriage to an empowered young women attending school, and points to how Marcia is an inspiration for other adolescent girls in her community.


Rapariga Biz is directly contributing to the implementation of Mozambique’s Family Planning 2020 Commitment, which aims at increasing the use modern contraceptive methods for adolescents between 15-19 from 14,1% to 19,3% in 2020 and from 26,7% (DHS, 2011) to 50% in 2020 for unmarried sexually active adolescents between 15-19.


“With the ambitious goal to reach 1 million girls and young women, Rapariga Biz is quickly turning into a movement towards realizing the potential of girls and young women and accelerating the development of Mozambique”, shares Andrea Wojnar, UNFPA Resident Representative.