The United States Agency for International Development will spend between $4.5 million and $10.4 million to encourage girls in Malawi to use birth control.
This plan intends to prevent pregnancy and STDs, especially HIV.
Part of USAID’s “Girls’ Empowerment through Education and Health Activity” plan, this grant will endow sexual and reproductive health and family planning education for young girls in Malawi. It seeks to combat the lack of HIV and sexual and reproductive health education and services.
The grant explains that “sexual acts that resulted in a pregnancy also place girls at risk for leaving school and/or contracting HIV.” Females, especially young girls, are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to men. In 2010, the HIV occurrence rate for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 was 4.2 percent as opposed to 1.3 percent for males.
The grant calls for more resources to teach about sexual reproductive health, HIV and family planning. USAID has stated it is important for young women to know correct information about these topics.
However, the 2010 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey exposed that even though there has been an increase in the use of modern family planning in Malawi, the HIV rate has remained.
Access to birth control and other methods does not appear to be a problem for women in Malawi. However, Malawi ranks tenth in the world for the number living with HIV/AIDS, and ninth worldwide for the number of fatalities from HIV/AIDS.
The grant also aims to improve literacy skills for girls and access to schooling. The grant states that this will lead to more achievement for girls in school.
This initiative in Malawi is one more step in encouraging Family Planning 2020’s aim to provide 120 million more women and girls with contraceptives by 2020.
– Colleen Moore