The Voices Behind the Videos

By Chidimma Maduabum, Adolescents 360 Project Assistant, SFH Nigeria, and Christianah Aborisade, Adolescents 360 Young Designer, SFH Nigeria

It’s not enough to have young people on the menu—they must have a seat at the table. Young people must be driving and shaping the health solutions that best serve them. And they are—in greater numbers and with greater power than ever before. The global community recognizes this shift, and the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) issued a call for young people aged 18-25 to lend their voice by submitting videos responding to this question: What does it look like to invest for a lifetime of returns? More than 550 youth applied. 100 winners from roughly 40 countries were selected. Impact magazine’s Youth Editors Christianah Aborisade and Chidimma Maduabum spoke with four winners to understand what inspired the compelling messages they’re bringing to the ICFP global stage.

Baye Leinyuy Bongla, 25, Cameroon,Vice Executive Director, Youth Health International

Chidimma: What inspired your activism surrounding adolescent and youth access to reproductive health services?

Baye: I remember a 14-year-old girl getting turned away from our family planning unit when she asked for contraception. I later found out that she lost her life after an unsafe abortion. That was a turning point for me. Young people have a right to comprehensive information concerning their reproductive health. My video drives home that this access is not just a health issue, but also a human rights issue that affects us all. I want every young person, every donor and every government to understand the need to invest in reproductive health so young people can take charge of their lives.

Jane Nyathi, 24, Zimbabwe, District Facilitator, FHI 360

Christianah: What are the key themes in your video?

Jane: My video addresses the struggles many young women face in making reproductive health choices. It is about African society where men have traditionally viewed reproductive health as a woman’s concern, instead of a concern of women and men, boys and girls. It is about policies and programs that forget women are not the only decision makers when it comes to family planning. And it is about the policies that hinder young people below the age of 16 to fully access comprehensive family planning services. Investing in family planning betters the future of generations to come.

Sadia Rahman, 24, Bangladesh, Country Coordinator, International Youth Alliance for Family Planning

Christianah: What does choice mean to you?

Sadia: My video, “Choice Matters,” addresses the importance of giving young people the tools to access accurate, friendly and age-appropriate information so they can make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. All young people, including those with special needs and those from the most vulnerable groups, have the right to choose and access quality healthcare services. But that right is not always realized, especially for young people. It’s high time we invest in young people for a lifetime of returns for the world.

Sarmad Muhammad Soomar Ranani, 23, Pakistan, Co-Founder Sindh Chapter, Youth Advocacy Network, Pakistan

Chidimma: What message do you want young people to take away from your video?

Sarmad: My video, “A Better Choice Pays Off,” is a wake-up call for youth to add their voices and change their communities. I use my experience learning about reproductive health to demonstrate the challenges young people face when it comes to contraceptive access, and I provide practical ways that increased knowledge can impact communities for the better. I want my video to remind young people that they can take control of their lives and their health.

View theirs and other youth ambassadors’ videos throughout the conference.

Banner photo: © PSI/Evelyn Hockstein

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