By MOSES CHIMFWEMBE –
THE CONSORTIUM of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media in Zambia have formed a coalition to implement the ‘Because we can!’ campaign aimed at promoting young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) information in line with the government’s policies.
The ‘Because we can’ is a regional campaign that seeks to ensure a more effective domestication and monitoring of the Maputo Plan of Action, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) commitments and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) SRHR strategy 2019-2030.
It is also aimed at contributing to positive changes in SRHR and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) policies and laws as well as to defend progressive policies at African Union, SADC and national levels in eight Southern African countries.
In Zambia, the coalition dubbed ‘CSO League’ would speak with one voice to enhance decision makers’ accountability in domesticating and implementing continental policies and norms that protect young people’s SRHR.
The Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ), a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Africa Region, would coordinate the activities of the CSO league in implementing the ‘Because we can!’ campaign.
According to the latest Zambia Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS), the country’s demographic profile has young people making up more than 50 per cent of the population of about 17 million people.
And PPAZ executive director Joan Kamwale says, “With that kind of a population structure, you really want to know what kind of issues young people in Zambia face and our focus is on issues to do with sexual reproductive health among them.”
“We strive to engage in activities and programmes that are promoting access to age appropriate sexual reproductive health information and services among young people because we know that teenage pregnancy in Zambia is very high,” she said during a stakeholders’ meeting in Kafue recently.
Ms Kamwale further said the CSO league would also look at how access to family planning commodities by the underserved women, especially in the rural areas, could be improved.
The ‘Because we can!’ campaign is anchored on six inter-related outcomes that include enhanced public discourse on SRHR and CSE, increased individual awareness and agency of youth activists from the region, and greater acceptance of SRHR amongst faith groups.
Other outcomes are improved transparency on the status of SRHR and CSE commitments in the region, increased public support by influencers and increased engagement and influence of the CSO
alliance on policy and budgetary process.
Members of the CSO league include Restless Development Zambia, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), SAFAIDS, Centre for Reproductive Health and Education (CRHE), Network of Zambian People Living with HIV/AIDS (NZP+), and Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations (ZAFOD).
Other partners are Prisoner Reintegration and empowerment Organisation (PREO), Zambia Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (ZANERELA+), and Alliance for Accountability Advocates Zambia (AAAZ).
Southern African countries that are also implementing the ‘Because we can!’ campaign with the support of IPPFAR are South Africa, Malawi, eSwatini, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana.