Life planning in Mozambique

AMODEFA, the IPPF Member Association in Mozambique, is the largest non-governmental provider of sexual and reproductive health care in Mozambique, and one of the lead organisations advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It works in a challenging context, where 1 in 2 girls are pregnant or have had a child before the age of 19; half of girls marry before turning 18; and 23% of women between 15 and 49 years old have an unmet need for family planning. The country also has the 8th highest HIV prevalence rate in the world.

Family planning is gaining urgency on the agenda of the government, and many ongoing initiatives seek to curb child marriage and early pregnancy.

But the challenges are many.

“The first barrier is our culture, including our beliefs, myths and our values. Changing people’s minds and fighting misconceptions are issues we face every day” said Marcia Mandlate, 23 years old, President of the youth activists’ network in Mozambique.

Marcia Mandlate, 23 years old, President of YAM. Marcia was an activist and a peer educator before becoming the President of the youth network in Mozambique.

Photo credit: Cosmina Marian/C2030E

Marcelo Kantu, from AMODEFA, also highlighted that once young girls are married, they become completely dependent on their husbands. “They are not self-sufficient anymore. If the husband prohibits her to access care, it’s hard for us to reach them” he continued. The situation is similar for unmarried young people, where many hide the fact that they are sexually active from their families for fear of judgement or sometimes even violence.

But AMODEFA, often in collaboration with the government, runs outreach programmes and trains activists to engage with communities, religious and traditional leaders to change minds and hearts. They have adopted an integrated approach, going beyond the discussion of family planning to include topics such as gender, drugs, citizenship and other social issues faced by the communities with whom they work.

AMODEFA also runs youth-friendly clinics where care is free of charge. Young people have access to non-judgemental care, free contraception, and a safe and private place to speak to their peers. 

“We have this space because young people need to feel free and meet other young people to share peer to peer. They don’t want to meet their family in the clinic, they are terrified to meet their family at a clinic” said Maria Amelia, Youth Officer at AMODEFA.

And progress has been made for patients like Rute Bernardo Chaluco (25 years old) who notes that it’s easy for her to access family planning in Maputo. “Modern contraception is good for anyone that wants to protect themselves” she says just before leaving for her appointment to put in an implant.

Rute Bernardo Chaluco, 25 years, has a 8 years’ old daughter and has been visiting the AMODEFA clinic in Maputo for the past few months.

Photo credit: Cosmina Marian/C2030E

Actors work on the ground to make sure that family planning is no longer taboo and is easily accessible to everyone, but they need support. The achievements of organisations such as these can only be continued with funding support, thus it is imperative that European donors continue to rise to the challenge and invest in contraceptive freedom.

Contraceptive freedom should not depend on which country you live in, nor should it depend on your income. We must continue to support the Herculean efforts of organisations such as AMODEFA so that all people can lead safe and dignified reproductive lives.

At the AMODEFA clinic in Maputo.

Photo credit: Cosmina Marian/C2030E

Main Photo: Maria Amelia, Youth Officer at AMODEFA

Photo credit: Cosmina Marian/C2030E

Article by Cosmina Marian/C2030E

Read the next blog in our series about family planning in Mozambique.