Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights
Sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is based on the notion that all people, including key and vulnerable populations, have the right to make their own free and informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in Cameroon.
In terms of supportive laws and policies, a 2021 report on the SRHR status of Cameroon found that there were laws criminalisng same-sex sexual behaviour and sex work, as well as safe abortion, with the only exceptions being in the case of rape and to save the women’s life. Reproductive health was also lacking, with just 15% of women aged 15-49 using modern contraceptive methods, and only 69.4% of pregnant women being tested for HIV. Sexual health was more promising, but still inadequate, as neither men or women had reached the 95-95-95 testing and treatment cascade targets for HIV (though women performed considerably better than men). Lastly, HIV prevalence was substantially higher in key populations than in the general population.
In Cameroon today, many girls miss classes because they are in their periods, a lot more get pregnant and eventually drop out of school because they lack basic knowledge on menstruation in general, some others suffer menstrual shaming in schools and in communities.
- Laws and policy supporting all people to make their own free and informed decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health.
- Access to adequate sexual and reproductive health care, as part of universal coverage of essential health services.
- Knowledge of safe sexual and reproductive practices as well as knowledge of individual rights regarding these topics.
- Targeted sexual and reproductive health and rights services for key and vulnerable populations.
our ongoing efforts
- Bridgers Association has been engaging communities within the context of SRHR to increase knowledge and positively change attitudes, to facilitate eventual policy changes.
- Introduction and free distribution of sustainable and alternative menstrual hygiene management kits: Menstrual Cups, Menstrual Panties and associated WASH kits and items, Reusable Pads combined with educational explanations to improve female reproductive health. (Not only does this curb menstrual poverty but they are environmentally friendly and durable lasting between 2-10years of use).
- Carrying out of sensitization campaigns and distribution of both male and female condoms as well as lubricants in communities and universities, combined with interactive demonstrations of their correct usage with artificial genitalia.
- Numerous campaigns against HIV/AIDS in schools and communities including testing and linkage to treatment in communities identified as being at high-risk.
- Workshops in secondary schools teaching adolescents and young people the practicalities, efficacies, various methods and types of contraceptives and where to get them in times of need. General lectures on menstruation and the dignity of it to every girl/woman and humanity as a whole thus, instilling confidence in beneficiaries.
While our continues efforts has created great impact so far, we lack the financial funds to continue replicating and implementing our SRHR program to its maximum capacity, resulting in unfortunate losses and gaps in the overall impact of the program.
Whilst our ongoing efforts are creating a visible impact within the communities we reach, with greater financial resources, we can do more.
We could engage with more communities, including those particularly isolated and therefore less able to access SRHR services.
We could also increase our distribution of sustainable and durable items/kits to improve SRHR such as menstrual cups, menstrual panties, reusable pads, condoms and HIV testing and treatment kits.
While our impact is growing day after day, we envisage to create ‘The Bridgers Skills Empowerment Center’ where vulnerable girls and women can learn and produce some of these sustainable menstrual kits here in Cameroon both for themselves and to sell for financial autonomy.
Bridgers Association is in need of NEW Partners for our Programs from any part of the world.
References: WHO Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Infographic Snapshot Cameroon 2021