Girls in Tajikistan are being married at an increasingly younger age. In order to protect themselves from the physical risks associated with early marriage, early childbirth and unprotected sex, Aflatoun’s partner organisation Mercy Corps adapted Aflateen, a school-based curriculum for teenagers, to the local context and included an extended focus on reproductive health, family planning and HIV.
The programme targets 14-18 year old girls at secondary schools and combines financial literacy with Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Education. Increasing adolescent girls’ knowledge of their reproductive rights and teaching them life skills enhances their agency and status in society, enabling them to delay marriage and motherhood and, ultimately, yielding better outcomes for the girl and her future children.
Aflateen+ was implemented in 100 villages of Tajikistan, which, since its independence, has seen a return to more traditional social values, placing more focus on women’s domestic responsibility, while limiting their career opportunities. At the same time, men migrate abroad for work, especially to Russia, which has led to a rise of HIV infection through contact with sex workers.
Our research has shown that Aflateen+ had significant impact on the girls’ knowledge of HIV/AIDS; their support for more equitable gender norms; their saving skills, and their plans for pursuing a career. Overall, Aflateen+ gave many girls in Tajikistan the opportunity to gain knowledge on their rights and enhanced their agency in their local communities.