Inspiring young men in Haiti to lead change in their community

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“The doctor told us he could not save both,” recalls Fabien.

He would have had a little brother if Fabien’s mother had better access to quality health services and more agency to make decisions related to health. Sadly, Fabien’s mother had both typhoid and malaria and gave birth prematurely to her stillborn child.

The grim reality is that approximately 830 women and girls die each day from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. And approximately 2.7 million newborn babies die every year.

That’s why Plan International Canada is working to change the birth story by improving access to quality sexual and reproductive health information and services that responds to the rights and needs of women and adolescent girls.

Engaging men and boys to #ChangetheBirthStory

Plan International Canada is working with over 3 million men and boys and engaging them as agents of change to support the empowerment of women and girls, and to change the birth stories in their homes and communities.

One of the ways we do this is through community led peer groups that provide safe spaces for members to learn and discuss a variety of issues. Community volunteers are trained to lead the groups or ‘clubs’ that educate, provide information and facilitate learning about sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality, and more!

Motivated by the loss of his brother, Fabien joined his local health club. Each month, he learns about and discusses issues related to gender equality and the importance of men’s involvement in sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Fabien says he loves to take notes and write reports, but mostly he enjoys raising awareness in his community.

“We prepare and carry out the activities of the month which consist of home visits, awareness meetings, meetings with community organizations, and awareness in schools,” says Fabien.

The role of the members of the health club is to raise awareness of men and boys on sexual and reproductive health and rights and maternal, newborn and child health, and to build their capacity to support and empower women and girls to use health services.

SEE ALSO: Meet Diack – the inspiring father challenging gender roles in Senegal

Change in behaviour

Ms. Raphael, a nurse in charge of the local community health center, said she has seen a considerable increase in the number of visitors to the center in recent months.

“We used to only receive 4 to 5 visits a month,” she reveals. She used to feel discouraged by the low number of visits. But now the number of people accessing the health center has gone up significantly and there are around 50 visitors per month.

“The health committee members do a tremendous job,” says Ms. Elizabeth and administrator at the health center. “They have a lot of credibility and go to the most remote areas to educate people.”

Fabien is very proud of the work he’s doing with the health club.

“I feel useful to my community and with the help of trainings, my knowledge is enriched. I explain to men how they can accompany their wives in their pregnancy, I talk to them about the danger signs, and I tell them about family planning, so that what happened to my mother does not happen to anyone else.”

Empowering youth to lead change

Youth like Fabien are at the forefront of leading change in their communities; all they need is a bit of support to succeed. Our sexual and reproductive health and rights project in Haiti is not only working to engage men and boys but also empower youth to lead change and help make gender equality a reality.

Gender inequality is the root cause of many issues girls and women face around the world, including the inability to exercise their right to health. In order to improve the conditions of girls and women in any community, we recognize that we must improve their social status. And the only way to achieve gender equality is to engage everyone in the community especially men, boys, older members of families and community leaders.

If you’d like to help advance gender equality and access to life-saving health education and services, please take 60 seconds to add your name below!

I stand with Canada to change the birth story because I believe that every adolescent girl, woman and child has the right to be healthy and to live a life free of discrimination.

Kavita Dogra | 4 years ago | « back