Activa International Insurance Company (Lib) Limited and the Liberian chapter of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) last Wednesday started a project that is intended to cater to the sexual and reproductive health needs of scores of disadvantaged and underprivileged girls in Grand Cape Mount County.
The project, dubbed “Sexual and Reproductive Health and Life Skills Training,” will last for seven months and is meant to educate, empower and build the capacities of at least 50 adolescent girls, all of whom are school dropouts in Tienii and its surrounding communities. The girls will benefit from life-skills training and business management as well as education on sexual and reproductive health issues.
Top executives of ACTIVA and officials of YWCA as well as some officials government attended the opening program. The Insurance company is providing the funding (US$33,000.00) for the project while the YWCA serves as its implementing partner. ACTIVA is a pan-African insurer and the originator of the Globus Network that operates in 36 African countries.
The goal of the program, Atty. Gbalazeh noted, is to help reduce vulnerability among adolescent girls who have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy.
“We have the shared conviction that by building their capacities through information sharing and empowering them to take charge of their lives, they will acquire skills that can help them overcome dependency.”
The funding for the project comes from the ACTIVA Group Foundation—the insurer’s non-profit entity based in Mauritius, and the corporate social responsibility arm of Activa Insurance Group, Atty. Gbalazeh disclosed. The foundation is a private-public partner, working with communities.
“It is our core belief that when we do well as a corporate entity, we should correspondingly do good to improve the society we coexist in. This gesture on our part is a miniature response to some of the societal needs, a demonstration of our corporate citizenship and conscience,” said Gbalazeh.
He noted further that Activa endeavors to balance the pursuit of profit with a commitment to ethical conduct and to achieve a balance between its economic and social obligations. We trust this program when implemented, will provide business skills and economic empowerment to about 50 adolescent girls who are high school dropped outs.
Many adolescent girls are most time forced into sexual relationships to cater to their families. Peer pressure, early marriage and poor awareness of sexual and reproductive health issues are some of the factors that greatly contribute to teenage pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancy, according to a UN Population Fund report, requires urgent attention as it is a serious problem in Liberia where it stands at 38%. It is estimated that on average 3 in 10 Liberian Girls are pregnant before the age of 18. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education is one of the causes of teenage pregnancy.
“Teen age pregnancy affects the family, community and the society at large. It is disruptive to young women’s career and goals,” Atty. Gbalazeh noted.
Seed money will be provided under the project to cover the costs of equipment, construction of a sales point (shop structure) and ingredients.
Beneficiaries will be trained in pastry making and business management techniques. The training will be set up in five groups of 10 girls each. The girls will sell their products and save the profits generated.
Ms. Roseline Toweh, YWCA’s National General Secretary, said the project will help minimize teenage pregnancy and improve the living conditions of the girls. She said her organization has experienced and trained manpower to carry out the program successfully.
“At the end of the training, each participant will receive one tenth of the profits saved during the training period and each will also receive a startup kit,” Ms. Toweh said.
The girls will also be trained and encouraged to organize themselves to operate on a joint-venture basis.