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Engaging boys to advance sexual and reproductive health in Mozambique

"I grew up hearing and understanding that men are superior to women and that when any man speaks, a woman needs to be silenced, but volunteering for this programme made me learn that men and women are equal and we all have the same rights," shares Allen from Tete Province in Mozambique.

Macanga, Tete Province, Mozambique - Gender inequalities affect boys and girls at an early age and can negatively affect their social and emotional development. It is recognized that improving the rights, agency, and choice of women and girls involves and benefits all of society, and the role of boys in achieving this remains vital.

When youth lack knowledge, information, and access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, there is a risk of increased early and unwanted pregnancy, maternal mortality, and other health challenges that severely impact the life and future of a girl. 


Allen facilitating a community dialogue session with the young boys in his community. 
©UNFPA Mozambique

In 2019, Allen, a 17-year-old boy from Macanga district, in the Province of Tete in Mozambique, was selected to take part in a UNFPA-supported youth empowerment program called My Choice. As part of the programme, Allen and his peers participate in community dialogues with men and boys in their community where they learn about human rights, women’s rights, gender-based violence, and gender equality. It is through these conversations with his peers that Allen learned that men and women have equal rights and he decided to join efforts to promote the rights of women, including their sexual and reproductive rights. 

Allen also gained valuable insight into the importance of family planning, not only for the girls in his community but for young boys as well. 

"I have supported the program through dialogues with boys from my community and from time to time, I participate voluntarily in health fairs and exhibit contraceptive methods to prevent early pregnancy within my community. I grew up hearing and understanding that men are superior to women and I started to realize that is not right," he shares.

 

 

 

The My Choice programme, funded by the Government of Netherlands, aims to contribute to achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and to the realization of the reproductive rights of adolescents and youth in Mozambique, accelerating efforts to reduce early and unwanted pregnancies among young women. 


Allen shares free condoms with his peers during a community dialogue session. 
©UNFPA Mozambique

The programme has helped more than 102,585 adolescents and young people gain access to quality adolescent sexual reproductive health and family planning services in Tete province. In Macanga district, where Allen lives, more than 41,000 adolescents have been reached and engaged since 2019. 

When women and girls are able to live free from discrimination and violence and given the power to choose when and with whom to have children, they have the potential to positively contribute to the socio-economic development of their communities. 

The My Choice programme recognizes that working with men and boys, like Allen, within communities will empower others, spread knowledge and awareness and in turn, reduce harmful practices such as gender-based violence and unwanted pregnancies. In the two years that the program has been implemented in Tete and Cabo Delgado provinces, more than 855 community dialogues have taken place between men and boys.