The Slaight Family Foundation funds Crossroads to advance sexual and reproductive rights for vulnerable youth in Senegal
TORONTO, ON – MARCH 3rd, 2020 – Young people at risk of sexual violence in one of the poorest regions of Senegal will be the beneficiaries of a new funding for Crossroads International from The Slaight Family Foundation. The funds will allow Crossroads to reach 30,000 teens and 75,000 indirect beneficiaries through a youth-led initiative to increase awareness of sexual and reproductive health rights among adolescents at risk of child trafficking, forced prostitution, child labour, and sexual violence. The Slaight Family Foundation announcement, in advance of International Women’s Day, is part of a $15 million, 15 organization commitment to improve human rights and opportunities for women and girls.
“This support will allow Crossroads and our partners to reach an unprecedented number of children and youth at great risk in one of poorest regions of the world and transform their ability to access sexual and reproductive health information and services,” said Heather Shapter, Executive Director of Crossroads International. “We are very grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for its inspired leadership.”
Kedougou, Senegal is a hub for extractive industries. The region can see its population rise from 150,000 to 2 million for several months out of the year. More than half the population is under the age of 17. Forced prostitution, child trafficking, and sexual violence are a significant crisis: pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death for adolescent girls aged 15-19; child and forced marriage is prevalent where 52% of girls are already married; only one adolescent in 20 use contraception; and 77% of girls stated they need safe sexual and reproductive health services. Stigma around sexual and reproductive health is great and services are limited.
Crossroads will partner with Action Aid Senegal, and local partners APROFES (Association Pour la Promotion de la Femme Sénégalaise) and CONAFE (Coalition Nationale des Associations et ONG en Faveur de l’Enfance) to transform access to quality, gender-responsive heath services in Kedougou by providing gender sensitive information and accessible health services to adolescents including testing, family planning services, and increased access to contraception.
The Slaight Family Foundation is also funding outreach, data collection, reporting and monitoring of girls forced or coerced into prostitution in the mines. With reliable and real time access to information on violence against women and girls including child trafficking, child labour, prostitution, and early pregnancies, as well as early and forced marriage, governments and other local stakeholders can develop appropriate interventions for children and youth to live free from violence.
The Foundation’s funds will match Global Affairs Canada support for Crossroads’ ground-breaking project. “Funding commitments from foundations and government are fueling the growth of a youth led movement to help young people assert their rights and make choices for a better future,” said Ms. Shapter.
About Crossroads International
Crossroads International is a leader in international cooperation and has been fighting inequality for 60 years. Crossroads works with local partner organizations to create decent jobs and to empower women to become leaders and live free from violence in some of the world’s poorest nations. Every year, we engage experienced volunteers and staff North and South who apply their expertise locally to address global issues. Together we are leveraging knowledge, expertise, and dollars to create a more just and equitable world.
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