Tomi, 17 (not real name) lives in Agege, she gave birth when she was 14. When Tomi spoke to one of our facilitators, she regretted not having a safe space or youth-friendly center where she would have obtained life-saving information on safe sex methods. Tomi had to drop out of school and now volunteers with the young mum’s club in Agege. Tomi’s story is not uncommon in our society and this is one of the driving forces for SID’s interventions. Given the low levels of knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and limited access to and use of SRH services and contraceptives among adolescents and youth in Nigeria, SID designed a safe space program for 100 girls in low-income communities in Lagos State; Ebute Ilaje and Agege.
The project was sponsored by GAD Studio and ShareYourself and implemented in three weeks in the two communities simultaneously with the following thematic areas in focus; sexuality education, menstrual hygiene management, skill acquisition, music, and arts. The sexuality education modules focused on Values, Self-Esteem, Goal-Setting, Assertiveness, Finding Help, Relationships, Gender, Sexual Abuse, Reproductive Anatomy & Physiology, Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV/AIDS, and Family Planning. As a contribution to ending period poverty and improving awareness on Menstrual Hygiene Management, Rjay Initiative in partnership with SID distributed sanitary pads to the beneficiaries, the supply of sanitary pads can last up to three (3) months.
Blessing Ashi, Program Manager at SID Initiative who was a safe space facilitator while speaking at one of the classes stated that safe spaces are important for young people especially girls because it helps them learn in spaces free of judgment and discrimination. Ample and appropriate information on Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) including HIV/AIDS and GBV is pivotal to helping girls live healthily and stay productive. Also speaking at one of the centers is Oluwaremilekun Ogunbanwo, a safe space volunteer she explained that the integration of economic empowerment into safe space programs is an innovative way of improving the health and well-being of girls because when girls are financially independent, they can support their families and this reduces the prevalence of transactional sex and in some cases, sexual violence. To achieve this, SID Initiative invited a girl-child advocate and entrepreneur, Anita Graham who taught the beneficiaries how to use locally sourced fabrics like Ankara to make accessories such as bangles, earrings, hair bands, and belts. The Girls’ Corner project rounded off with graduation ceremonies In the two locations where beneficiaries leveraged music and art to illustrate lessons-learned and knowledge gained from the safe space classes.
Sustainable Impact and Development (SID) Initiative for Adolescent and Youth is a youth-led and youth-focused non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the sexual reproductive health and wellbeing of young people in urban and rural communities in Nigeria. We achieve this through a three-point approach which are: Education, Advocacy and Capacity Building. We employ innovative and strategic approaches while leveraging on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and media to achieve our mission. ShareYourself is an open project management and social engagement platform designed from the ground up to guide change-makers by providing opportunities for creators of social initiative projects through grants and strategic partnerships.