2021 SRHR Activism Awards Winners Honored

THE Sexual Reproductive Health and Right Africa Trust (SAT), has awarded young people who excelled in advancing work around SRHR in communities throughout the year 2021 despite challenges that were brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Michael Gwarisa

The SRHR Activism awards are amongst other reasons aimed at motivating young people to advocate for their Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in their respective communities.

Officiating at the awards event, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Zimbabwe Country Director, Ms Sophia Mukasa Monico said young people have a role to play in advocating for policies changes regarding their health.

The Activism Awards come at a time when the world is grappling with a deadly COVID-19 pandemic which has significantly disrupted access, the availability and affordability of HIV and SRHR services by many. Young people have been affected the most, given how over 60% of the Zimbabwean population is made up of young people under the age of 25.

“Access to HIV and SRHR services places young people at the rightful position to make decisions about their health and wellbeing.  Therefore, we are gathered here today to celebrate every youthful advocate doing extraordinary work in promoting access to HIV and SRHR services within their communities.  We also celebrate SAT’s commitment to providing knowledge on SRHR, and for promoting meaningful youth participation in issues pertaining to their sexual and reproductive health,” said Ms Mukasa Monico.

She encouraged government, stakeholders and the citizenry to be committed towards young people especially adolescent girls and shun prejudices and any forms of discrimination against them.

“Through this awards ceremony, UNAIDS in partnership with SAT, will continue to work together in supporting young people on matters relating to sexual and reproductive health. And in promoting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – good health and well-being, and SDG 5 on Gender Equality.

“All those who submitted their case studies are in my view winners. I therefore 
wish to congratulate all of you for your efforts. To those that are receiving 
awards today, hearty congratulation. Don’t remain where you are but continue 
impacting other young people in different communities to make a lasting difference
. Well, done to you all and I look forward to the same event next year.”

Dr Mildred Mushunje, the SAT Country Director said their goal as an organization is to promote the wellbeing of young people with the thrust of ensuring that young people are safe regarding their access to SRHR and also includes Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), HIV counseling and testing among other services.

“These Adolescents Activism awards are meant to celebrate young people’s efforts towards promoting access to reproductive health services. Each year, we send out a call for young people to document the work that they will be doing in their communities related to accessing health services.

“This year we had very interesting submissions. The fact that young people are doing their work in their communities for us that’s a win in itself. We also promote young people in communities. We liaise with different stakeholders in communities both grassroots and urban because we are trying to narrow down the rural urban divide. We are trying to make sure that young people from rural and urban settings can access services equally and equitably,” said Dr Mushunje.

Meanwhile, the 2021 edition national prize for the SRHR Activism awards was won by 22 year old Tanyaradzwa Makotore whereas disability SRHR activist Yolanda Muyengwa (25) and Craig Marimo were runners up. Speaking after winning the accolade, Tanyaradzwa said, “…I just want to appreciate and thank SAT for acknowledging our efforts as young people in advancing SRHR issues in our communities. When I started this journey, it was more of a hobby especially with the public speaking with other girls and young women.

“Later as I got deep into it, I began to see that there was more to activism especially for young adolescent girls and young women who were now depending on me for advice and assistance. The world out there is genuinely a cruel place for most adolescent girls and young women. We face challenges as we try to climb the success ladder.”

Tanya runs a movement called *“I Just Want To Be Heard”* which pushes for adolescent girls and young women to use their voices to end all social injustices against them.

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