After over 17 years of effort, the Philippines government passed a Reproductive Health Law in 2012 that guarantees universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and maternal health care. Its implementation had to be delayed because of heated debates and in 2016 it is still not fully in force. In cities like Manila, women face enormous barriers when seeking reproductive health services, and there is misinformation about contraceptive access. This situation is even more pronounced in rural areas. It is still a taboo to talk about sex, and access to information or services related to sexual health (e.g.contraceptives), especially for youth, are virtually non-existent. As a result, early pregnancy rates in the Philippines are high: the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study found that the proportion of the 15-19 year olds who had begun childbearing increases with each age. Among the 15-year olds, 2% had started childbearing, and among the 19 year olds this rate was already at 35.2%. This year 2016, in addition to soaring rates of teenage pregnancy, Palawan especially is facing epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS, and the Department of Health has identified adolescents as a Key Affected Population.
ROH was started in 2009 by Susan Evangelista and her daughter, Amina Evangelista Swanepoel, with the aim to teach reproductive health to marginalized communities and to college, high school and university students, thereby improving health and the general quality of life in Palawan. The mission of ROH is to foster self-reliant women, young people and families to lead healthy reproductive lives by providing health education (e.g. education sessions for youth), and health services (e.g. checkups and delivery service). ROH empowers women and girls to secure their right to health and freedom from violence, and to support and protect the health and well-being of their families by reducing the incidence of maternal mortality, and delaying or preventing unwanted pregnancy. ROH works with some of the most underserved communities in Puerto Princesa where women and girls live in very marginalized circumstances, without access to any paid health services and difficult to access government services.
EMpower’s 5th grant will enable Roots of Health (ROH) to continue providing reproductive health education to 21,000 young people in schools, including consolidating the Youth Advocates program and strengthen the component for teachers training. It will pilot test a new age-appropriate module for students in grades 5 and 6 on gender, puberty and empathy to respond to the needs of very young adolescents in elementary schools.
Primary Location: Puerto Princesa
Funded Since: 2013
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