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Nadia, Togo

Communities must be involved in determining their own healthcare needs

Thanks to her local youth club, Nadia is helping break down the barriers around talking about sex and is learning how to protect herself from HIV Nadia has been a member of her local youth club in Togo for the last two years. The youth club, which is supported by Plan, provides a forum for young people to come together to discuss issues that affect them.

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    For Nadia, learning about HIV and gaining the confidence to discuss it openly has opened a new world for her. "Here we're like a family. We've been learning a lot, but I've especially got to know myself better as a girl, how to protect myself from sexually transmitted infections and HIV through abstinence, how to use condoms and how you should stay loyal to your partner in a relationship."

    This knowledge and new found confidence has also encouraged Nadia to break taboos with her family and within her community. "In the past speaking about sex was forbidden. As a consequence, my sisters and I didn't even dare talk about subjects related to sex," she says.

    "But now it's no longer like that. My parents have changed a lot thanks to meetings they attended with us at the club. Sometimes I ask my father for advice, and we talk about certain subjects related to sex." The knowledge that she's gained from the club has made the dialogue between her and her parents much easier, says Nadia, and the same applies for her sister.

    "I've also become a member of the village development and youth committees. Adults ask me and other members of the youth club to organise discussions with women and girls on topics related to sexuality," she says.

    "The club facilitators have also taught us how to carry out income-generating activities. Knowing about business can help me become an entrepreneur, which is especially important for girls. This means I won't have to rely on someone else or look for the easy way out, which is often what drives girls into the arms of men."

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