Helping girls tailor healthy futures for themselves in Moldova

15 August 2018
Students from the Centre of Excellence in Light Industry show off their design for UNFPA promotional tote bags. Photo: UNFPA Moldova

CHISINAU, Moldova — “Health Education – My Right, My Choice” was selected as the winning slogan in a creative competition held at a vocational training school in Chisinau as part of a UNFPA-supported initiative to increase knowledge about reproductive health among a potentially vulnerable group of young people.

Earlier this year, more than 400 students, most of them girls, from a vocational school called the Centre of Excellence in Light Industry met with volunteer youth peer educators from the Y-PEER Network to learn about healthy lifestyles and how to prevent some of the risks that can be encountered during adolescence, including abuse and unwanted pregnancies.

The second part of the initiative saw the students demonstrate their talent and creativity by submitting slogans and designs for UNFPA-branded T-shirts and tote bags that will be used in further awareness-raising and advocacy activities for health-education promotion.

The project, called “Girls Tailor Their Healthy Futures,” was carried out as part of a new partnership between UNFPA, the Y-PEER Network and the Moldovan Ministry of Education, Culture and Research to promote reproductive health and rights in vocational training schools. Moldova’s Vocational Education Training system currently enrols more than 46,000 young people between 15 and 19 years of age, many of whom come from rural areas and from vulnerable families.

“We started this partnership with the aim to empower young people, both girls and boys, to develop healthy life skills in addition to the professional skills they learn in the vocational training system,” said Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative in Moldova. “Healthy lifestyles that prevent violence, unintended pregnancies and diseases are necessary and critical for young people’s development, and for them to have productive lives in the future.”

Awards in the creative competition at the Chisinau school were given for both the best design of the T-shirts and bags, and for the winning slogan. The awards were presented by representatives of the United Nations in Moldova, the Embassy of Germany, the Austrian Development Agency and the Embassy of Sweden in the Republic of Moldova. The winning groups of students received diplomas and hygiene kits provided by UNFPA and by a private company that supported the initiative. The students later produced prototypes of the promotional materials they designed during practical training in the school’s workshops.

‘We get to know ourselves better’

Emilia Carauş, a student representing the group that won best bag design, thanked the organizers of the activity for the opportunity to express themselves in a different way. “I think these kinds of activities are necessary in technical vocational education, because we get to know ourselves better,” she said.

“Our students gained several benefits through this initiative: they learned how to protect their reproductive health, they improved their professional skills, and they also earned money for purchasing fabrics and accessories which they need for their internships,” said Alexandra Raeţchi, director of the Centre of Excellence in Light Industry.

Members of a delegation from UNFPA, the Ministry of Education and other partners, including the Swedish Ambassador, the UN Resident Coordinator and the Head of Coordination Office for Technical Cooperation at the Austrian Development Agency, visit the sewing workshop at the Centre of Excellence in Light Industry. Photo: UNFPA Moldova 

“The right to health is a guaranteed right, and the objectives and purpose of this initiative are in line with the educational policies of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research,” said Angela Cutasevici, State Secretary at the Ministry. “This partnership will ensure the sustainability of the optional course ‘Decisions for a Healthy Lifestyle’ that is currently offered in the Vocational Education Training system.”

Following the success of the programme at the Centre of Excellence in Light Industry, the initiative to promote reproductive health and rights will be expanded to other vocational institutions with the support of UNFPA and its partners, including the private sector, to ensure the healthy and harmonious development of all adolescents in Moldova.