Youth for Change, an initative by the Youth Harvest Foundation Ghana, aims to increase access to sexual health information and services for youth through education campaigns led by out-of-school teens.
As it is the case in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana has high rates of teenage pregnancy and child marriage. Both issues constitute key sexual and reproductive health challenges facing young women.
The situation is particularly dire in the Upper East Region of Ghana. A 2017 study observed that 14% of young women aged 15-19 years had given birth at least once across the country. Conversely, for the Upper East Region, this number was 17%, with some districts registering increasing rates in recent years. While the rate of child marriage in Ghana in 2014 stood at 21%, the Upper East Region recorded a rate of 36.1%. The high incidence of teenage pregnancy and child marriage is a direct consequence of the limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
While there are limited sexual and reproductive health programmes provided to youth in schools, there are no initiatives focusing on those who are not in education. In addition to the challenges posed by the lack of education, out-of-school youth are at increased risk of teenage pregnancy, child marriage and sexually transmitted infections.
Youth for Change will empower out of school youth leaders with sexual and reproductive health information and skills. They will be coached to directly engage their peers and carry out advocacy actions with relevant stakeholders to provide youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services in their communities.
Youth for Change will directly contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 3.7 of ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive care services as well as Sustainable Development Goal 5.3 of ending child marriage.