Empowering young women in Bujumbura to improve their sexual and reproductive health and rights and claim to their rights


Coordinator: Jocelyn E. Finlay, PhD, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Consortium partners

  • Gilbert Niyongabo, PhD, University of Burundi
  • Jacques Ndikubagenzi, MD, PhD Candidate, University of Burundi
  • Chantal Inamahoro, PhD candidate, Pathfinder International

Summary of progress

We aim to empower young women in Burundi to improve their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and claim to their rights. The young age of first birth of many women in Burundi is both a consequence and a cause of diminished SRHR. Using a mixed methods approach, we have worked to identify particularly vulnerable young women in Burundi who may not have equal access to reproductive health services as those who are not considered vulnerable. Qualitative work with professionals working in the field of ASRH, and youth participatory workshops with 15-24 year old women, tell us that young women separated from their parents (housemaids, boarding school students, orphans) are particularly vulnerable to early childbearing. Inclusion programs that breakdown the young women’s fear of visiting health clinics, and community sensitization programs to create youth friendly centers, will be tested in a randomized control trial framework in Kayanza.



A consortium of academics from Harvard University and the University of Burundi, and a practitioner organization (PSI-Burundi), will aim to empower young women in Bujumbura to improve their SRHR and claim to their rights. The young age of marriage of many women in Bujumbura is both a consequence and a cause of diminished SRHR. Key informant interviews with local stakeholders in the field of youth SRHR, a kick-off workshop involving the consortium and research team as well as these stakeholders, and a qualitative study using a youth participatory action research model, will build capacity and knowledge sharing around the gaps in SRHR for young women in Bujumbura today. Results from these qualitative studies will then feed into a larger quantitative study designed to evaluate a program to be implemented by PSI/Burundi a voucher offering free family planning counseling, services and products at a private clinic where staff are trained in a youth friendly approach to provision of care. Over the 36 months of the project we aim to build the capacity of senior academics, local staff, and youth involved in the participatory action research. We also aim to bring clarity for a knowledge gap identified by PSI/Burundi on the most vulnerable young women in need of help to improve their SRHR. The methods used and results found in this study will translate well to other high fertility urban (and peri-urban) settings in sub-Saharan Africa.


Scientific article

Publications for the general public


Project number

W 08.560.002

Main applicant

Dr. J.E. Finlay

Affiliated with

Harvard University

Team members

Dr. Dr Achandi PhD, Dr. J.E. Finlay, M. Karra, Dr. J. Ndikubagenzi, A. Ndoricimpa, Dr. R Ngenzebuke, Dr. G Niyongabo