Addressing the SRHR concerns of individuals in rural Ghana.

In rural Ghana, addressing issues concerning the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of the people living there is a daunting task. According to some advocacy groups, some rural folks have resisted the education given them, mostly as a result of their cultural and religious beliefs. Nevertheless, these groups are trying their best in reaching out to the folks in these areas, to sensitize and educate them on the need to take their sexual and reproductive health seriously.

We had a twitter chat on the topic “Addressing the SRHR concerns of individuals in rural Ghana”. The guest for the discussion was Miss Aureila Mensah, a youth advocate who has worked tirelessly in the area of SRHR and gender-equality for five years. 

She first pointed out that there’s no big difference between SRHR issues in rural areas and urban areas. But the context of carrying out a message plays a key role because of the recipient of the message and for rural areas, most of their beliefs are deeply rooted in culture and relgion. 

The dominant topics treated in rural areas are contraceptives and family planning, menstrual hygiene, adolescent sexual health and HIV and STIs. She further explained that in these areas, it’s sometimes challenging to communicate effectively to these people. Reason being that, in such areas, their cultural and religious beliefs influences their reception of the message given to them or otherwise. Some rural folks have strong opinions opposing the education given them. This makes some people to be hostile.

In a rural context, the main means of communication is ‘door to door’ visitations and public durbars. In instances where they are faced with a language barrier, they go with a native of the area, who can easily communicate with them and interpret to the rural folks. She added that education in the rural areas is not enough but it’s better than before. She believes that, the situation will get better with time and also when everyone is on board to help.

However as advocates, they also encounter some challenges. Some of which she listed as: funding, hostility from rural folks and culture and religion.

In addition, the situation in rural areas pertaining to teenage pregnancy and STIs is still on the increase according to Miss Mensah. Nevertheless, she believes that there’s still room for improvement as organizations are trying their best in tackling it.

Some ways SRHR education can be improved in rural areas are by:

1. Increasing financial commitment especially by Government.

2. Supporting youth led initiatives in the SRHR field.

3. Increase access to SRHR services.

In concluding the discussion, Miss Mensah further indicated ways in which other organizations can help. These she highlighted as follows: 

1. By creating contextual programming and activities for rural areas.

2. Creating linkages and partnerships between organizations.

3. Creating community ownership of programs/projects.

4. Creating sustainable projects/

There’s more work to be done in addressing SRHR  concerns among individuals in rural Ghana.  Organizations and advocates must be committed to this work and keep up with what they are already doing.With time, people living in rural areas in Ghana will quickly and fully grasp the importance of SRHR advocacy work. Advocacy groups will achieve the desired impact: 

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