March 8th is International Women's Day. But for the Flemish development cooperation in Mozambique it is Women's Day every day. Since 2015, the Flemish operation in Mozambique focuses almost exclusively on promoting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls. The mid-term review of the development cooperation in Mozambique, commissioned by the Flemish government, shows that this was a good choice.
In Mozambique, complications concerning pregnancy and childbirth are the main cause of death for adolescent women between the ages of 15 and 19. More than half of the women are married before their 18th birthday, up to 20% even before their 15th birthday, and have their first child. In addition to the physical risks these young girls face, social and economic barriers and insufficient independence from parents and the health care system make them a very vulnerable group with few or no opportunities, for themselves and their children.
The Flemish development cooperation in Mozambique specifically focuses on these young female adolescents and their sexual and reproductive health. Initiatives are aimed at correctly informing the girls and their environment, at making health care accessible to this vulnerable group, but also vice versa: making health services and information accessible to these girls and attuning them to their specific needs and concerns.
According to the mid-term review carried out by the external evaluation company hera, specialised in development cooperation within the health sector, this was not only a good, necessary choice, but also one with a high effectiveness. The projects aimed at reaching adolescents and making services and information accessible proved to be effective. The evaluation also attributes good points for the sustainability of the initiatives, through integration into the national and/or provincial health system, and for being open to innovative ideas.
The evaluation also gave a number of working points. Such as specific cooperation with actors in Mozambique who work towards a general recognition of the sexual and reproductive rights of (young) women, so that ultimately all Mozambican women can be reached. Better integration in the education system is also recommended.
The mid-term review will be discussed at the next bilateral consultation between Flanders and Mozambique on 7 April next. Coincidence or not: April 7th is the 'Women's Day of Mozambique', an official holiday in Mozambique and the closing of the Women's Month (8 March - 7 April).
Country Strategy paper Mozambique and mid-term review
General Representation of the government of Flanders in Southern Africa