“The experience I had with MSI really helped me. It enabled me to continue my education.”
Aisha* is a young Senegalese woman in her late teens. She lives in a coastal town in the north of the country, and when we spoke to her, she was just about to finish her final year of school.
“It’s thanks to MSI that I was able to finish my studies. I am now in my final year…”
*Aisha is not her real name.
We cannot support girls without reproductive choice
When girls like Aisha can access quality education, they are better able to pursue a career, create opportunities in their communities and drive positive change in wider societies. But around the world, millions of girls drop out of school every year.
“At school, we often see girls, sometimes by marriage and sometimes before marriage, they become pregnant,” Aisha explains. “Usually they don’t come back, because if they keep the baby, they often won’t have the means.”
The importance of adolescent friendly reproductive health services
Globally, teenage girls find it harder to access sexual and reproductive healthcare. In low- and middle-income countries, teenage girls are almost twice as likely as older women to want access to contraception, but not yet have it.
At MSI Reproductive Choices, we are working tirelessly towards a world where every woman and girl has access to the reproductive choice they need to stay in school, lead, and build a more equal world.
Working with schools
In Senegal, that means we are working directly with schools to deliver adolescent friendly contraceptive services to young people, allowing them to avoid unintended pregnancy and continue their education.
Safietu Seck is an MSI provider in Senegal, and she knows just how important the information she provides is.
“There are huge consequences if access to reproductive healthcare is difficult. Too often we see young women abandon school. That is why my job with MSI is to provide family planning information, advice and services for young people.”
Support without judgement
In Senegal it is difficult for young women to access information and reproductive health services, especially if they are unmarried. So offering services free of judgement is crucial.
“In order to look after a young woman, we need to understand her worries and needs. We can’t look after a young woman if we judge her,” Safietu explains. “Many young women who come to us are scared of being judged or stigmatised. But we are here for them, it’s our job to make them feel supported.”
“When I first came to MSI,” Aisha says, “I was a bit scared because I didn’t want to be judged, but the people here really helped me. They welcomed me and reassured me.”
A fairer future is possible
Lack of reproductive choice leads to unintended pregnancies, forcing girls to drop out of school, robbing them of their education, and in some cases, their health and lives. To support girls and young women to remain in school, we need to ensure that they have access to high-quality contraception and other reproductive healthcare services.
That requires removing legal, social, and cultural restrictions that keep adolescents from accessing healthcare. We must increase access to quality information that refers adolescents to safe services, and we must increase the availability of adolescent-friendly services.
We have a long path ahead of us before every girl has access to a high-quality education and reproductive choice.
But a fairer future is within reach, and we need your support to get there.