We organize safe spaces through an inclusive neighbourhood space (INS) for adolescent girls and women in rural communities. The INS focus on enhancing girl’s knowledge to promote and protect their rights to say no to early marriage, promote child spacing for adolescent mothers, and increases knowledge of menstrual hygiene management and other harmful traditional practices (HTPs).
This is organized as a 3-days intensive life skills and vocational training workshop for girls in the communities. After the workshop, girls are grouped into their skills cohort and mentored for 12 weeks on age appropriate sexual and reproductive health information. Thereafter, each cohort choses a team lead with assistance from community volunteers, and organizes the cohorts for engagement for at least one-hour every week in the community. This sustains the campaign and allows community take ownership in supporting women and girls’ rights.
The campaign combines engaging young men and community influencers to create community awareness and knowledge on child marriage; credible information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (menstrual hygiene, child spacing, antenatal etc.) and other HTPs. This improves the level of engagement by local structures to fight against child marriage. The awareness raising and mentorship strategy of adolescent girls promotes delay in early marriages and educate boys and community leaders on the gains of allowing girl children complete their secondary school, and also build a community support network for girls and women to advocate against HTPs. This all-round inclusive engagement are the key strategies for preventing child marriage. The INS create an enabling environment where adolescent girls and women thrive and join hands with community members to combat the root causes of forced child marriages and improve their sexual and reproductive health knowledge. The project approach used is inclusive, community-driven and engagement-based.