Healthy Women and Girls
THANK YOU for helping to protect the health, safety and rights of women and girls in Mozambique!
MOZAMBIQUE IS CULTURALLY and biologically diverse. White sandy beaches run along its coast, and its inland is known for its fertile soil. The former Portuguese colony should have booming agriculture and tourism industries, but prior to its independence in 1975, it didn’t benefit from these riches. After independence, political unrest and violence created more economic instability and forced 4 million people from their homes. The turmoil continues to this day.
Let’s not say “I do”
Why early marriage happens and why it’s harmful.
In many communities, early marriage is considered a socially acceptable way for girls to avoid extreme poverty and sexual violence. In reality, child marriage increases young girls’ risk of domestic abuse as well as life-threatening complications from early pregnancy. These issues, which are not widely discussed within communities, are openly addressed in the Champions of Change clubs and community discussion groups created through the Healthy Women and Girls project. In these sessions, everyone is encouraged to share what they learn about these issues with their families and friends so that attitudes around gender equality and rights are more likely to change in the broader community.
Marriage ban, not bands!
IN 2019, MOZAMBIQUE passed a new bill banning child marriage. The bill, which was unanimously passed, set the minimum age of marriage at 18 and closed the loophole in the law that permitted children to marry at 16 with the consent of their parents.
Plan International played a key role in lobbying for and drafting the bill, working with national and local governments, community leaders, boys and girls, parents and religious leaders.
“This law change represents a historic commitment by the Mozambican government to uphold the rights of girls,” Anne Hoff, country director at Plan International Mozambique, told the press at the time.
Mozambique has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with almost half of girls marrying before age 18 and more than one in 10 marrying before their 15th birthday.
“If a girl is married before the age of 18, she is more likely to drop out of school, to become a child mother, to die during pregnancy or childbirth and to be trapped in a lifetime of poverty,” added Hoff. “This law helps pave the way for millions of girls who would have been robbed of their childhoods to continue with education and reach their potential. This could lift a generation of young women out of poverty.”
“This law change represents a historic commitment by the Mozambican government to uphold the rights of girls.”– ANNE HOFF, country director of Plan International Mozambique
Your support helps women and girls access safe maternal, sexual and reproductive health services. Here are some outstanding achievements from the Healthy Women and Girls project:
34000 women and men
participated in discussion groups and workshops to promote gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and prevent child marriage in their communities.
adolescent girls and boys joined 264 Champions of Change clubs, through which they learned about gender equality and how to advocate for their sexual and reproductive health rights.
radio programs broadcast information about the availability and importance of sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health services as well as COVID-19 safety protocols. They also raised awareness about the harmful outcomes associated with child marriage.
500 health workers
– including birth attendants and community-outreach workers – were trained to provide specialized care for adolescent girls, mothers and newborns. The training included where to access critical care for high-risk pregnancies and how to recognize the warning signs of gender-based violence.
women and adolescent girls took entrepreneurial training, which included designing business plans.
traditional leaders shared messages about the importance of gender equality and the harmful consequences of early pregnancy.
0 health facilities
were refurbished and given medical equipment and supplies to address sexual, reproductive, maternal and child health needs.
were held with community and government decision makers to advocate for better sexual and reproductive health laws and services and better protection against child marriage.
The report card
of girls age 15 to 17 were married
are married. We surpassed our target of 32% by increasing awareness, community involvement and advocacy!
How we made it happen:
of women age 20 to 49 received sufficient prenatal care.
of women in this age group received sufficient prenatal care.
How we made it happen:
of adolescent girls and 64% of women received postnatal care within 48 hours of childbirth.
of women and adolescent girls received postnatal care within 48 hours of childbirth. We surpassed our target of 80% in both age groups!
How we made it happen:
The Road Ahead
ACINA, 28, WHO delivered her son two years ago, is one of thousands of mothers who have benefited from the emergency medical transfer services made possible by your generous support for the Healthy Women and Girls project. She lives in a rural area in the Moma District of Mozambique, and the nearest rudimentary health centre is 30 kilometres away. By the time Acina arrived at the centre, she was experiencing severe complications. She was terrified because many women in her community had died there; without equipment like ultrasound machines, newborn-resuscitation tables and sterilization tools, the health facility wasn’t prepared to provide critical maternal care
“Patients [who, like Acina, live in rural areas and] need an ultrasound have to be referred to a hospital more than 250 kilometres away,” explains Odia Marcel, director of Moma District Hospital. Making that trip to Marcel’s hospital, which can take between six and eight hours due to poor road conditions, was never an option because there were no ambulances. “Patients who couldn’t be transferred were assisted locally instead, which exposed them to a high risk of death and serious injury,” adds Marcel.
“I was well taken care of, and now my son and I are doing well.”
Fortunately, the local health facility that Acina went to had an ambulance, thanks to donors like you, that could safely and swiftly take her to Moma District Hospital. There, she received the specialized care she needed to deliver her healthy baby boy.
“The equipment provided by the Healthy Women and Girls project is a great asset to Moma District Hospital,” says Marcel. “We now have an ultrasound scanner that we use on more than 150 women and adolescent girls a month.”
Your generosity is making safe deliveries a reality for thousands of new moms – like Acina – and babies in Mozambique.
Along with the work of community members, leaders and health workers in Mozambique, your commitment has ensured that thousands of women and girls like Acina can access vital care and services – now and in the future. In her words: “My community now feels a little safer.”
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