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Preventing teenage pregnancy through sexual and reproductive health education

Some 25% of pregnant women in Nicaragua are adolescents, in large measure due to lack of information, communication and education on sexual rights and health, and so Plan International Nicaragua is working to enable young people to make safe, sensible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

Juliana Martinez

Our Sexual and Reproductive Rights Programme enables 2,430 adolescents and youths to access training on safe practices regarding their sexuality, information on delaying the onset of an active sexual life, the use of modern contraceptive methods and the use of sexual and reproductive health services.

The project titled Empowerment of Adolescents and the Young through Sexual and Reproductive Rights, has promoted that the girls and boys learn of and take ownership of their sexual and reproductive rights; that they replicate this knowledge among their peers using a simple methodology; and that they organize themselves so they are in a position to undertake advocacy work with the municipal authorities, among other aspects.     

A group of adolescents and youths from the communities of San Rafael del Sur and Villa El Carmen are promoting sexual and reproductive rights at their schools and communities with the support of Plan International, their mothers, fathers and school counsellors, who have also participated in the training.

They are motivated by the desire to prevent teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The groups of adolescents and youth work voluntarily as promoters or counsellors on these rights.

Julia is 15 and lives in a semirural community in the area. For her, to participate in this process has led to both inward and outward change.

She says: “Before, I had a very closed mind and no one could tell me anything, I always contradicted whatever was being said. Now I feel I am an empowered person, communicative and open. I’ve learned not only to talk about sexuality without embarrassment, but also to reflect on how I relate with people. I’ve grown closer to my parents and now feel enough trust to touch on subjects that before I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking about.”

In her community, school and municipality, Julia is a recognised leader, and therefore the talks she holds with other promoters are always packed. These meetings take place 2 or 3 times a month during free time or when they plan the sixth grade of primary and fifth grade of secondary school classes with the school counsellor. These discussions among peers have been a success.

Julia says: “Among us kids we understand each other better, there is more mutual trust to state our opinions, and my schoolmates are always asking me questions.”