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AMAL (Hope) Initiative: Adolescent Mothers Against all Odds
Unleashing the power of vulnerable adolescents in fragile settings
Against the backdrop of an increase in early marriage as a perceived coping mechanism of the crisis in Syria and risks related to adolescent pregnancy, supporting pregnant adolescents’ access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services was identified as a critical gap. In line with the Whole of Syria adolescent girl strategy developed through the gender-based violence (GBV) and SRH coordination mechanisms and evidence-based practices, CARE, UNFPA, SRD and other local partners have developed a package of interventions to meet the unique needs of pregnant adolescents in Northern Syria.
The AMAL Initiative not only recognizes the importance of meeting the immediate needs of pregnant adolescents and first-time mothers in crisis-affected Syria but also addresses the need for an adolescent-responsive intervention grounded in transformative gender and social norms approaches at both the community and health service levels. With the face of fragile contexts becoming increasingly young, this package seeks to inform the global evidence base and dialogue around adolescent SRHR nexus approaches. It should be noted that this package has been developed through an iterative process and participatory approaches to adapt global approaches to the fragile context of Syria and a changing cultural and political landscape, with assistance from local partners including Shafak, Ihsan and Violet throughout.
The AMAL Initiative includes three main components:
1. Young mothers’ clubs: A set of eight sessions developed for pregnant adolescents and first-time mothers in crisis-affected Syria to improve their knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and life skills. The SRH sessions are adapted from:
- USAID’s Maternal Child Survival Program’s My First Baby: Guide for Adolescent Girls from Save the Children
- CARE’s TESFA program
- UNICEF’s Adolescent Girls Toolkit for Iraq
2. Health service provider engagement: Recognizing the unique needs of adolescents and the specific barriers they face in seeking services at the health facility, this component includes participatory exercises to be integrated into trainings for health service providers to transform their attitudes and biases towards providing SRH services including family planning to adolescents. These sessions include participatory exercises also developed based on CARE’s Social Analysis and Action (SAA) approach focused on rights-based approaches to family planning counseling, communication skills and ensuring adolescent-friendly health services. These sessions have been adapted to the context from CARE’s IMAGINE program.
3. Community engagement: This section includes sessions for community members, ideally reached by community platforms such as community action groups to go through facilitated sessions of reflection, exploration, and action with the primary intention of rallying community and household level support to vulnerable adolescents (married, pregnant and first-time mothers) and with a long term of challenging and transforming the inequitable power and gender dynamics. These sessions were also adapted from CARE’s TESFA program.