By Susan Packard Orr, Chair of the Board of Directors of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation
As I reflect on the extraordinary achievements that will be highlighted during the 2018 International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), I am gratified by the progress the field has made over time. However, we all have more work to do to ensure every woman and girl worldwide can live with dignity and have a voice in the decisions that affect her life.
To reach the Family Planning 2020 goals, we need to ensure not only women and girls’ access to quality services but, equally as important, that we place the voices and experiences of women and young people at the center of the work. Women and young people are not simply the recipients of reproductive health services, but rather the agents of change in designing, defining and advocating for services that meet their specific desires and expectations.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation recognizes the need for finding new leaders, organizations and ideas to achieve these goals. To do this, we are supporting the next generation of leaders in a movement to define what type of reproductive healthcare is right for their own lives.
EACH TIME WE ASK YOUNG PEOPLE FOR THEIR IDEAS, WE ARE INSPIRED BY THEIR KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT AND PASSION.
Through our Quality Innovation Challenge, first launched at the 2013 ICFP in Ethiopia, we supported a project to help young people define youth-friendly services, act as “mystery clients” to assess the services provided and to give feedback to the facility managers and providers. This project has demonstrated that young people can play an important role in improving the quality of care and delivering youth-friendly health services.
We have also invested in the Youth Champions Initiative, which connects outstanding young leaders to peers and mentors, provides skills development and supports their innovative, locally-grounded solutions to sexual and reproductive issues. Young leader Tinbit Daniel partook in the project and created an animated TV series called Tibeb (meaning wisdom in Amharic) Girls, featuring teenage girl superheroes who fearlessly solve real-life challenges Ethiopian girls face by modeling empowering behaviors.
These two youth-led projects are examples of many effective efforts we enthusiastically support. Around the world, we are seeing real change in how women and young people receive information and use their collective voice to get the quality care they want, need and deserve.
The Packard Foundation’s role, based on the lived values of my parents, is to support the best leaders and organizations who can drive meaningful, lasting change. We constantly evaluate our progress, adapt our efforts and ask ourselves: How do women and girls define what quality care looks like? When looking at new ways of providing health services, are we measuring both quality and access? Are we making room for young people to lead?
I encourage all of us to keep these questions front and center as we work together to make a real difference in the lives of women and girls everywhere.
Banner photo credit: PSI/Manprit Shergill