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Investing in flourishing #6

Peace, food and clean water aren’t the only foundation on which a nation can build. Sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights are essential too. If you don’t combat maternal mortality, AIDS and the subordination of women, the whole building collapses. That’s why the Dutch government makes an extra investment in progress in this area in developing countries. We’re grateful and start laying the foundations.

You need young people to flourish

A flourishing future starts with flourishing young people. However, many developing countries lack the conditions for young people to thrive: knowledge of healthy sexual behaviour, access to healthcare, and the freedom to be yourself. Since 2011, it has been the ambition of the large-scale youth programmes Access, Services, Knowledge (ASK) and Unite For Body Rights to realise this triple foundation.

We take huge steps in eleven countries, together with our Dutch and international partners. We reach 116 million people through 400,000 educational activities. We train 70,000 educators and 80,000 healthcare professionals in providing correct information and 39 million contraceptives are distributed. We deal with 28 million requests for healthcare. A manual provides further support to organisations in improving young people’s situation.

Going forward

In the programmes Right Here Right Now and Get Up Speak Out, which are led by Rutgers, we continue to promote the health and rights of young people in developing countries, together with our Dutch and international partners. We also present an agenda for action that calls on governments, donors and civil society to make a strong contribution.

The female condom dream

Hairdresser in Cameroon shows a female condom (credits: Chris Pennarts)

It’s as light as a feather but it can make a heavyweight contribution to countries’ development: the female condom. The product gives women more control when it comes to protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy as well as STIs, including HIV. Widespread use improves the health of communities but also the opportunities for women to develop their talents.

In the programme Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC), we work with Oxfam Novib and i+solutions to make female condoms better-known, better available and more affordable in developing countries. We organise the Global Female Condom Conference, where international organisations and governments commit themselves to the dream of the female condom.

“My husband really loves it, because it has solved certain issues like my fear to make love during my unsafe period. At times, when my husband complains of not having a condom, I quickly offer him a female condom.’’

Odelia Bessum Kum (hairdresser and mother of three children, Cameroon)

Going forward

Partly as a result of UAFC’s support for manufacturers, two new female condom products have been approved by the World Health Organization for worldwide distribution. As a result, a total of four different female condoms are now available. That’s good news, because more competition on the market makes prices go down.

Man marries child

It sounds too bizarre, even for a nightmare: young girls who have to marry older men. However, in some countries this happens every day. Child brides aren’t allowed to go to school anymore, are abused, and have children at a much too early age. This extreme violation of human rights deserves to become a top priority. We contribute to setting these girls free and preventing future child marriages.

To achieve this, we work in partnership with authority figures in local communities. Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto in Malawi is a brilliant example. She manages to annul 330 child marriages and sends the girls back to school. With the encouragement of Minister Ploumen for Development Cooperation and Princess Mabel (Chair of Girls not Brides), we and our partner organisations are investigating how we can best combat abuses.

Going forward

In the Yes I Do alliance, we work with our partners to tackle child marriages, female genital mutilation and teenage pregnancies in seven countries. Adolescent girls are given a major role in improving their own position.

Monthly standstill

1weekextra

On the road of development, girls and women in rural India are brought to a standstill every month. Due to a lack of knowledge of menstruation care and access to hygienic sanitary towels, they are forced to withdraw from public life for a week every month. As a result, valuable days for school, work and personal development are lost.

Thanks to the Dutch Postcode Lottery, we provide education to both women and men about menstruation and the importance of good hygiene, in partnership with Simavi, Women on Wings and local partners. We also establish businesses for the production of affordable sanitary towels, which at the same time create jobs for hundreds of women. In the Netherlands, we draw attention to these issues with the public campaign “1WeekExtra”.

“Thanks to the participants in the Postcode Lottery, we can contribute to a green and just world. Sexual health and rights are absolutely necessary in that just world, in which everyone has the opportunity to develop themselves and participate.’’

Margriet Schreuders (Head of the Charity Department, Dutch Postcode Lottery)

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