This week, our newsletter comes to you from a different perspective. Our names are Yacine, Emma, Samantha, and Sofia, and we are the four youngest members of the FP2020 Secretariat. We want to share our perspectives of what it’s like to be a young person during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to elevate the voices of other young people around the world who have shared their own thoughts about how we can get through this chaotic time together.
Firstly, we want to acknowledge the privilege of working for an organization that provides health care coverage, paid time off, and an understanding environment. We do not take this for granted, and we want to use our experience to lift the voices of young people across the globe.
Last week, FP2020 co-hosted a Q&A with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP), and young people from around the world. The participants asked questions about access to contraception, safe sex, how to help young people organize around sexual and reproductive health needs, and the anxiety young people are experiencing. Despite our different circumstances, these questions hit home for each of us. Even here in Washington DC, getting a prescription for birth control and venturing out to retrieve it is no easy task – especially with stay-at-home orders and limited access to public transportation. Buying condoms can be anxiety-inducing in normal times, and now the risk of COVID-19 infection or transmission makes these types of trips even more stressful. In addition, young people are worried for their futures, with education and careers that may be put on hold because of stay-at-home orders.
How can young people work together to continue to make progress for access to family planning services, despite these challenging and unprecedented circumstances? We have seen how health care systems can adapt and innovate when faced with a crisis. These shifts provide an opportunity to create more access to reproductive health supplies and to use our extensive networks to spread valuable information and lessons learned. We also want to call upon established voices, like those at WHO Human Reproduction Programme, to listen to young people, and to use their power to give young leaders the autonomy and trust to continue our work.
As Dr. Chandra Mouli said in the Q&A, “It’s important to acknowledge and address the diversity of adolescents.” We want to highlight the diversity and the combined power of young advocates from all over the world. Check out on our newly launched Instagram account, run by young people, for young people. Find all four of us on Instagram at @familyplanning2020 to see what young people around the world are doing to combat COVID-19.
Young people are the future of the family planning movement. COVID-19 may be an unforeseen threat to the progress our community has made, but we will continue to find new ways to work toward a brighter future.
Yacine, Emma, Sofia, and Samantha
Read key takeaways from the Q&A hosted by WHO, FP2020, and IYAFP from Cate Lane, Cate Lane, FP2020 Director, Adolescents Youth, and watch the whole discussion on FP2020’s website.
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