ADOLESCENCE IS ANOTHER WORLD
Doris, an SS1 student resumed the 2nd term with the thought of her newly found boyfriend.Her holiday was exciting with Dave, a 3rd year university student. He had promised to marry her after his education and had repeatedly discussed about love.
Dorisfollowed me out of the classroom after the biology lesson to ask a personal question bothering her mind. “Can I have a boyfriend now?, she asked. How? I replied. She told me her experience during the holiday, how she met Dave, his promises of love and intention to marry her after his education. Doris was already in love from the tone of her voice and only wanted my support to go ahead with the relationship.
“Can you narrate to your mother what you have just told me, I asked.” She quickly added, ‘Nooooo’ she wouldn’t understand. Can you discuss with your elder sisters since you have four of them? I can discuss only with my immediate elder sister since she understands me better. You have a long way to go and will not achieve your goal in life if you begin now to think of earlymarriage, I informed her. She added, “many of my mates have boyfriends and are having sex”. We discussed at length before she returned to her class.
Interactions and engagement with adolescents through participatory programmes reveal that they are in a different world of their own. Adolescent girls are mostly neglected lacking factual information related to their sexual and reproductive health.They need someone who understands them and ready to listen to her sexuality issues. Adolescence is a difficult passage for many girls, even for those who have strong safety net of support at home and in school.
Also, programme evaluations revealed that girls do not speak out on issues of sexuality and reproductive health whenever they are jointly gathered with boys in a training room. They prefer to ask their questions in private and to one who is not a counselor but a friend. Majority of the questions are usually asked by the boys, “can a girl get pregnant if she have sex with a boy through the back” asked by a boy of about 14years old in a training. Another asked, “is it true that a girl will look older than her age if she did not have sexual intercourse”.
The 1ST COMMUNITY CONFERENCE ON SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND RIGHTS took place in ijanikin, Lagos State for in-school girlsas an added strategy to achieving the ICPD goals and objectives for girls and furtherincreased the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights knowledge of over 120 girls including few women within the local councilto make an informed decision and develop their potentials.
The conference was implemented by Grassroots and Gender Development Center in partnership with Utmost Caring Worldthat have been working in grassroots communities to bring about a positive change needed for sustainable development within the community.They have vast experience in working with young people and women in areas of health, education, personal and vocational skills training.