Adolescent girls and young women face a lot of challenges growing up such as rape, limited information on reproductive and sexual health, unwanted pregnancies and more.
It is against this backdrop that they have expressed the desire to sit with decision makers on the table to tell their own stories for, nobody can tell their stories better.
The Adolescent Girls and Young Women, AGYW, of Common Action for Gender Development COMAGEND, (a rights-based organization guided by feminist principles) sent this message to decision makers during an event organized at the Bamenda Cultural Centre.
Achem Evi Claire COMAGEND Programme Coordinator supervised and coordinated the event which was an avenue to discuss peace and security, sexual and reproductive health, and body rights.
AGYW COMAGEND used Forum Theatre as an advocacy tool for the inclusion of adolescent girls and young women in peace and security, sexual reproductive health rights and body autonomy.
The spoken word and Forum Theatre on the occasion amplified the issues of adolescent girls and young women and the need to be included in peace building process. Also, the spoken word highlighted the plight of adolescent girls especially in conflicts situations like in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the guns and the trauma of losing parents.
The peace ambassador reiterated the need actively taking part in the decision-making process and not used as Guinea Pigs for research.
“We want a quota system that shares power equally between the old and the young. Do not say women, I am a young girl in my twenties and I want my contributions to be separate from others”, said Sirri Sharon Ngwegu stated on behalf of her peers.
Government and other stakeholders should foster a political environment void of discrimination and violence but one which ensures gender representation in decision making, she added.
The adolescent girls and young women urged health authorities to “Strengthen monitoring and accountability systems of the behaviour of reproductive health staff, service providers who treat adolescent girls and young women shabbily. They should promote better reception and assist rather than ask young persons what they know about and want with a condom.”
They urged health authorities to create a friendly and welcoming environment for them to freely express themselves”.
“We want to learn about comprehensive sexuality education, body rights from teachers and not from a partner and peers. We need youth friendly social spaces in districts and rural areas, where we can talk about comprehensive sexuality education”, they stressed.
“You need to be intentional about the change you want, about the problems you want to solve, step up and claim the spaces”, Ngwegu chided her peers.
Statistics show that there are 54 million adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa. Against this backdrop, Liz Lum stressed that this is evident of the power, the experience and problems this group of people still face.
Ndumu Anna First Deputy Mayor of Bamenda 1 appreciative AGYW COMAGEND stating that young men should have been invited to watch the performance as they are perpetrators of certain acts like rape, the reception of health workers reserve for AGYW. She urged AYGW COMAGEND to explore other avenues of sharing the lessons from Forum Theatre with decision makers and other young persons.
Sally Mboumien, Coordination of COMAGEND, hailed the organizers of the sensitization event which to her portrays that she has invested in the future. “If I die today, you have taken the responsibility and the initiative no longer depends on me but to the community to push forward the agenda”, she concluded.