No More Token Youth Representation. Here’s How You Can Really Include Us in Planning for AYRH

The following blog has been translated from French.

Want to know what pushed me to become youth ambassador—to channel the voices of other young people?

The challenges young people face every day in our communities—particularly sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and unsafe abortions—are unresolved. These issues are personal.

Where I’m from, it’s taboo to talk about sexuality. So, my parents didn’t give my sister information. She got pregnant young.

When I see statistics—like how roughly half of pregnancies among adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa are unintended—I see my sister. I see my friends in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I see my fellow activists at FP2020 and IYAFP, who share my passion for improving sexual and reproductive health AND shoulder a lot of the burden due to a lack of responsive services.

I refuse to sit by and watch young people’s specific needs go neglected. I’m calling for more investment from donors and governments to meet our needs. I know I have a role to play. That’s why I decided to put all my energy into dealing with these unresolved problems. As an activist, I need to make my contribution. To help find concrete and effective solutions.

Now I’ve found a tool that can help.

Not Without Us! Tool for AYRH-Responsive Planning

A few months ago, I attended a special workshop in Kinshasa. Take a look—

Side by side, youth leaders and representatives from the Ministry of Health talked about the diverse needs of the DRC’s young people. For several days, we used E2A’s Not Without Us! Tool for AYRH-Responsive Planning (TARP) to evaluate our country’s AYRH action plans. The tools systematic approach enabled us to assess weaknesses and consider how to improve them to better address the needs of young people.

I believe everyone in the room could see the potential for this tool.  Not only did TARP help us analyze planned activities related to family planning to determine if they meet young people’s needs. It also allowed me to make my advocacy more effective. I can use the results of TARP to carry out advocacy with decision-makers and members of government based on evidence. 

Like any tool, TARP is only effective if people use it.

I want more people to use this tool to generate important discussions with and for young people. That’s why I’m excited to see our government partners using TARP…

A group from DRC TARP training - including youth and government representatives- smile at camera

I’m also excited to see other youth ambassadors leading TARP orientations, like Yvan from Côte d’Ivoire…

Tweet from Yvan: "Savoir que son image est associé pour un changement et une meilleure prise en charge des besoins spécifiques des adolescent.e.s et jeunes est une fierté. On continu le combat parce que nous sommes le changement"

And Nadine from Burkina Faso…

Nadine quote atop a photo of her: "It's time to put the family planning needs of young people at the ensure our governments are investing in our futures." —Nadine Some, 25, Youth Ambassador for Family Planning, Burkina Faso

Now I’m asking you…

If you want to bring people together to see the real picture of challenges young people face—and find the smartest ways to meet our needs—please check out these tools today: