THE Students And Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) has warned that climate change will have a major impact on the sexual reproductive health of women.
SAYWHAT were commemorating International Youth Day, which was celebrated under the theme ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards A Sustainable World’.
The organisation is also celebrating 20 years of unwavering advocacy for public health, educational rights and socioeconomic empowerment of young people in Zimbabwe and around the world.
It argues that environmental factors, such as temperature increase and extreme weather conditions, worsen problems that already exist.
As diseases spread, access to basic contraceptive and maternal care can be cut off by displacement or natural disasters.
The organisation emphasises that climate change disproportionately affects women and girls, who may be hampered by local gender roles and norms in accessing health care information.
SAYWHAT has called on African governments to prioritise ecologically sustainable practices, as part of moves to safeguard the health of their citizens.
“The connection underscores the need for comprehensive action to address climate change and its impact on sexual reproductive health.
“Women and girls may face difficulties in managing menstruation, accessing maternal healthcare, and navigating sexual relationships.
“The compounding effects of climate change, including increased poverty and food insecurity, increase the risk of sexual exploitation and intimate partner violence, aggravating existing challenges in this domain.
“Deforestation, air pollution and water contamination contribute to the spread of diseases, compromising sexual reproductive health outcomes.
“Air pollution adversely affects pregnant women and developing foetuses, leading to adverse birth outcomes.
“Chemical pollutants in water sources affect fertility, hormonal balance, and can contribute to reproductive disorders.
“Furthermore, the degradation of ecosystems diminishes vital natural resources required for livelihoods and healthcare provision.”
SAYWHAT said it remains dedicated to ensuring that the voices and rights of young people are respected.
“We firmly believe that every young person, irrespective of their circumstances, deserves access to quality education.
“We advocate for inclusive educational policies, support systems, and innovative mechanisms that enable vulnerable young individuals to continue their education, ensuring that their dreams and aspirations are not compromised by past challenges.
“We urge stakeholders, including policymakers, educators, and healthcare providers, to prioritise the fulfilment of young people’s SRH rights, including promoting comprehensive sex education, ensuring access to contraceptives, addressing gender inequalities, and eliminating harmful practices that negatively impact the lives of young individuals.”