A bit of an update

My Save Journey…

Things are moving right along with the VYA (Very Young Adolescent) package.  All the reading is done, the problems statement written and now it is writing about the eight sub sections:

  1. Prevention of early marriage.
  2. Comprehensive Sexual Education.
  3. Menstrual Hygiene Management.
  4. Access to Health Services.
  5. Anemia Prevention.
  6. Forming Positive Gender Norms.
  7. Strengthening Protective Factors.
  8. Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases.

There is so much information for each topic that it has been difficult synthesizing it down.  However I am grateful to Ted (another Save the Children intern – not with GSK but is working on his Ph.D) who wrote a literature review on the topic of the academic work on VYAs.  A few interesting points came through –

  1. There is still lots of opportunities for academic studies of the VYA.
  2. Things are getting better in the developing world.
  3. There is lots of development that needs to be done.

A couple of thoughts on the eight topics I am working on…first they all kind of merge together which both helps and hurts.  For example prevention of early marriage, menstrual hygiene management, comprehensive sexual education, access to health services, forming positive gender norms and strengthening protective factors all merge together.  If we want to prevent early marriage the girls need to understand their bodies (MHM, CSE), need to have access to health services for general and GYN care, they (boys and girls) need to have positive gender norms and try to break the cycle of girls as second class citizens with no rights and finally work with the parents to help them understand the importance of protecting their child.  So it is great that these all merge and we are able to change lots of behaviors.  There is thought the practical aspect of where to put each program.  That is fine – I like working on the details.

In the end it all about breaking the cycle…and this takes time.  It is easy to say – just stop child marriage and I truly wish it could be that easy.  Looking at the statistics it is heart breaking.  For example in the rural Amhara region of Ethiopia 43% of girls are married by the age of 15, has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world. Three out of four girls are married by the time they turn 18 in this region.

But in looking at the work that Save the Children and other aid organization do, it is about slowly and systematically changing attitudes.  That is what they and what I hope I am helping to do.