Established in 1994 as a Karachi-based community project, Aahung has become a leading authority in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights in Pakistan. Aahung works with schools, medical education institutions, and non-governmental and governmental organizations to advance the health and rights of adolescents.
The organization’s Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) courses—developed in collaboration with administrators, teachers, young people, parents, academics, and religious leaders— teaches adolescent school children about body changes during puberty, gender discrimination, HIV/AIDS, protection from violence, peer pressure, positive health seeking behaviors, and the importance of family planning. Aahung has successfully integrated the LSBE curriculum in public and private schools in Sindh province, and continues to expand its reach. The organization trains teachers at these schools to implement the courses.
Aahung’s community programs educate young, engaged and recently married couples about family planning, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence, and women’s rights in consenting to marry and within the marriage itself.
The organization’s work at medical institutions is with “pre-service” students—students in nursing and medical schools—to train them in the skills required to work on sexual health issues such as confidentiality and the ethical issues involved. Aahung integrated sustainability mechanisms into these programs so the lessons continue to be taught to each new generation of students.
Aahung has reached thousands of young boys and girls in Sindh province with its LSBE courses. In 2012, Aahung formed partnerships with more than 40 new primary and secondary schools, and trained hundreds of new teachers with its LSBE curriculum. In 2013, despite unrest and school closures during the period of elections, strikes, and turnover in key government posts, Aahung was still able to conduct additional trainings and distribute informative materials to thousands of students and parents/caregivers. Through its track record of success, it has a good reputation and strong ties with the Ministries of Education, Health, Population and Social Welfare, and is recognized by the media as an authority on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues.
The organization is also looking to expand upon the success of its LSBE by mapping the integration of comprehensive sexuality into the national curriculum, in order to be better able to influence it. They also intend to conduct an assessment of their work in schools to generate evidence for learning and advocacy, and to develop the capacities of youth “champions” for sexuality education.
Laws against child marriage are important, but groups like Aahung are showing how community outreach is just as critical.
Guest blogger Neha Mankani of Aahung in Pakistan explores both the difficulties in evaluating the impact of comprehensive sexuality education programs and some unique and creative strategies.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the International Women’s Health Coalition earlier this month, IWHC hosted a panel discussion with three young women activists to assess the progress we’ve made and address the challenges that lie ahead for women’s rights.
Four years after its inception in 1994, Pakistan-based NGO Aahung surveyed adolescent girls’ and boys’ knowledge of issues including sexual health, bodily changes, and gender-based discrimination and violence. What they found would be shocking to many. …