GENDER DIFFERENCES AMONG YOUTH WITH REFERENCE TO KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF SRH (SEXUALAND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH), RISKY HEALTH BEHAVIOR, WATER AND SANITATION
A baseline survey among the youth in the three districts of Vellore, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram was done in 2016, with the following objectives: to assess the knowledge and practice of SRH services, risky health behaviour, use of water and sanitation, and knowledge of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). The research design was descriptive, and the simple random lottery method used to collect data. The data comprised youth (11 to 18 years) studying in Government schools (sample size 400, with 250 boys and 150 girls). An interview schedule was used as the data collection tool. An analysis of the data showed that knowledge, practice and access to the services in question was very poor, irrespective of the sex of the respondents. Drinking water, toilets, and sanitation facilities were found to be adequate in the schools the respondents are presently studying in. However, the facilities were not entirely put to good use. Talking about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) is still considered a taboo: consequently, there is little awareness about SRH and availing such services is rendered problematic. The recommendations made included raising awareness about just how intrinsic SRH is; and the RKSK (Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram) programme for adolescent health, piloted by the GOI, must reach the youth so as to sensitise them about their reproductive health and rights.
School teachers and PHC staff can be best utilized for this purpose. Careful monitoring to ensure adequate water supply, privacy andregular maintenance of the toilets can help promote the use of toilets in schools. Parent-Teacher Associations can be actively involved in addressing these issues. Creating conditions for a better understanding, in both male and female youth, of the process of menstruation and the changes women experience therein is the collective responsibility of both parents and teachers.
Keywords: Gender, youth, sexual and reproductive health, water and