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Saving Lives: How Text Messaging can Improve Access to Family Planning

 These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Maureen Anyango Oduor, Plan At Hand Girl Empowerment Project (Tanzania)

I have a dream! I dream of a world where young women have information about and can access affordable and youth-friendly family planning services. I imagine family planning services being viewed as precious commodities, penetrating the hardest-to-reach markets effectively and consistently just like ice-cold bottles of Coca-Cola.

When adolescent girls don't have access to information about their sexuality, or to condoms and other contraceptive methods, the impact is intensely personal — an unplanned pregnancy, HIV or sexually-transmitted disease infection, or injury in an unsafe relationship — but the sum of these individual experiences are catastrophic for communities and for countries. Pregnancy-related deaths are a leading cause of mortality for girls aged 15-19 years-old in low-and middle-income countries.

In Tanzania, young people are at an elevated risk of experiencing sexual and reproductive health problems. The adolescent childbearing rates in Tanzania are among the highest in East Africa, where, by no coincidence, young people also have the highest unmet need for contraception. Investing in the health of adolescent girls is not only the right thing to do, but will also have a lasting impact on Tanzania’s economic and social development. Read more...

 

Knowledge is Power: Youth-Led SRH Education for a Brighter Future

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Ajidagba Emman Babatunde (Tunde), Campus Health & Rights Initiative (Nigeria)

As a young advocate from Nigeria, I have seen the numerous challenges that young people experience in my country firsthand.  One of the greatest challenges I see in my country is a growing generation of young people – and the difficulties they face in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and realizing their reproductive rights. But I also see this as an opportunity for positive change.

Right now, most young people in my country have an unmet need for modern contraceptives. In other words, they want to use contraceptives, but are not using them for one reason or another. Socio-cultural barriers to youth-friendly information and care and a lack of government resources are among the biggest barriers to Nigerian youth accessing the sexual and reproductive health services they need. Read more...

Girls and Women Won’t Be Left Behind

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

My dream is to live in a world where people’s age, gender, ethnicity, health, marital status or sexual orientation does not prevent them from exercising their rights. I would like to see societies where girls and women have a say in the collective decisions of their communities and countries, but most importantly, in the choices concerning their lives, their sexuality and their reproduction. Shaping the future we want requires urgent action at local and international levels.

Today, the world has the biggest youth population in history. In Mexico, 32% of the population is young (approximately 38 million)  – half of whom are women. Despite these numbers, young people have limited opportunities to contribute to development. Billions of young people around the world – and millions within in my country – have the potential to shift the prevailing paradigm if we act now. Read more...

 

Celebrate Solutions: “Dropping the Knife” Celebrations as Alternatives to FGM in The Gambia

By: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

Bat mitzvah. Sweet sixteen. Quinceañera. Russefeiring. Ceremonies to celebrate rites of passage are often an energetic party, defining a coming of age moment and cultivating a sense of hope for the future. These celebrations also often serve as a marker of maturity and preparedness for the “real world.”

Yet for millions of girls, their rite of passage includes a serious violation of their basic human rights through female genital mutilation (FGM). Current trends suggest that at least 30 million girls will be at risk for FGM over the next decade. An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, with 92 million over the age of 10 and residing on the African continent. Read more...

My dream for the future

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By Humphrey Nabimanya, Reach a Hand Uganda (Uganda)

Growing up in an HIV-affected community, I learned about stigma at a very young age. Although I wasn’t HIV positive, I was treated as such.

I was born in a small village known as Katereza in Mbarara district Uganda. I grew up in the hands of my sister – and she and her husband were both HIV positive. I was strongly affected by this and, like them, I was discriminated against by my friends and their parents. I wasn’t HIV positive, but I began to think I was. No matter how much my mother (sister) would tell me I was not, I still stigmatized myself.

This stigma shouldn’t exist – yet there is no stronger taboo in Uganda than talking about sex and HIV. I wanted to be able to talk openly about these issues with my family and peers but faced resistance. In high school, I started talking to friends about sexuality and HIV/AIDS, and so many young people approached me with different questions. They saw as some kind of oracle, but I just didn’t have all the answers. I knew I had to do something, so I started the project Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) to give young people a voice and empower them to change their future. Read more...

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