The HACEY Health Initiative trained 54 students of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) services in Nigeria. The training, which took place on Friday, 9th of April, 2021 at Ojas Pleasure Arena, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State did not only expose the participants to the issues surrounding sex, gender and reproductive health, it equally equipped them with the knowledge and tools, needed for social media advocacy of SRHR services, in Nigeria.
HACEY Health Initiative is a non-governmental organisation that has been improving the health and productivity of underserved populations in areas of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), HIV/AIDS and Family Planning. For over 13 years, the organisation has advocated for “inclusive policies” that permit young people to access quality SRHR services. A part of the strategies that HACEY Health Initiative uses is the “Youth Amplify Project” – a program designed to increase the awareness of SRHR services among the tertiary institution students in five southwestern states.
“The target is to train 500 students across five states. One Hundred in Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Lagos, and Ondo states,” Mrs Oluwakemi Omole, the program manager at HACEY Health Initiative, explained.
“In FUOYE, we were able to train about 54 students on their sexual reproductive health rights, letting them know that their sexual right is actually a human right and nothing to be ashamed of,” she continued.
Mrs Omole, while addressing the public on what SRHR is and how its services can be accessed, maintained that bias or cultural norms should not come to play when it comes to “young, unmarried” people’s sexual reproductive health.
“There’s a social norm that it is only married people that should have access to SRHR services. Meanwhile, we have young unmarried people that are sexually active but don’t want to get pregnant. There are victims of sexual-based violence who do not have to suffer in the long run. We are telling the young that there are youth-friendly centres where they can get SRHR services, free of charge, and without having to face bias or discrimination,” she said.
Speaking to this reporter, Mrs Akinyele Oluwakemi, a representative of the Ekiti State Ministry of Health and Human Services, emphasised that sexual health rights do not provide liberty for illicit sexual activities, which often lead to “criminal abortion.”
She further assured Ekiti Youths of the creation of Youth Friendly SRH centres, where Sexual Reproductive Health Services can be accessed, free of charge.
“I am overseeing the project and we are looking at having at least, one centre in all Local Government Areas in Ekiti state, where the appropriately trained providers will attend to the youths, without judging,” she said.
Mrs Akinyele later listed the services to be offered at the centres to include family planning, counselling, and the use of contraception.
The participants expressed joy and appreciation for participating in the training.
Moyinoluwa Ayara, a 200 level Peace and Conflict Studies student of the school appreciated the organizers for choosing to talk about the subject.
“Growing up, we dare not mention any sex-related topic in my home but coming here is a free space where I could ask questions and clear doubts,” she said.
“Days ago, I had this discussion with a friend about using storytelling to impact. And this is part of what was treated here. I plan to use this technique in enlightening the public on how the use of contraception is not bad,” explained Victoria Eegunranti, a student and gender advocate.
Jayeola Goodness, a final year student of the school thinks the right communication on this topic can cause change.
“I became concerned about sexual health after watching a movie titled ‘Dry’. But I am glad I have learnt how to use communication in implementing changes,” he said.
“I never knew contraception is good until after this training. This programme is a good one, and please, do not stop,” said Olalekan Fayose, who could not hide his excitement.
Maryam Yusuf, another participant, was excited that there are firms that still think of the youth.
“I am happy there’s an organisation that truly cares about the health of the young people. I am really glad I can now use graphics to enlighten the public,” she said.
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