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Stories

Latest stories from IPPF

Spotlight

A selection of stories from across the Federation

albania cervical cancer
Story

Stories about our global efforts to eliminate cervical cancer

From Nigeria to Bermuda, and Albania to Indonesia, our member associations are dedicated to preventing, treating, and ultimately eliminating cervical cancer. 
YOUNG PEOPLE
story

| 10 August 2021

In Pictures: International Youth Day 2021

Last year, IPPF and our global Member Associations delivered a staggering 98.2 million sexual and reproductive health services to young people aged 25 and under – that’s approximately 45% of all services delivered. When young people are able to access and manage their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with dignity and care, their chances of thriving in life increase, and as such we work with and for youth populations around the world in many ways. Take a look at some of the ways we have been involved with this and, more importantly, how young people themselves have been the driving force behind the fight for SRHR for all. Malawi Young volunteers connect their peers to information and contraceptive care Kondwani, a 22-year-old Youth Action Movement (YAM) volunteer, not only distributes condoms locally, she also challenges her peers to show her on a wooden model how to use them, because she knows that this can pose a problem for some people.Activities like this in hard-to-reach areas are one of many that the YAM delivers across Malawi. Trained and hosted by Youth Life Centres, which provide sexual and reproductive healthcare aimed at youth, volunteers like Kondwani meet up regularly and reach out to their peers in schools, universities, and on social media.Learn more about Kondwani Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Poland Defending human rights in the face of unrelenting attacks Nadia believes activism can change the world. Over the last few years in Poland, women’s reproductive choices have been stripped back at an alarming rate. The young activist wants to reverse this erosion of women’s rights by campaigning for better reproductive, labour and social rights across the country. Nadia is painfully aware that in Poland, where public discourse is dominated by men, the belief that “children and young women have no voice” still reigns.As a result of her activism, Nadia has become the target of visceral personal attacks online, unrelenting violent behaviour, sexism & discrimination – but she hasn't given up.Learn more about Nadia Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Mali Using street dance to teach about consent, contraception and more Abdoulaye Camara is the best dancer in the neighbourhood, and he’s not afraid to show it. But Abdoulaye’s moves aren't just for fun – he's head of the dance troupe of the Youth Action Movement, belonging to the Association Malienne pour la Protection et la Promotion de la Famille, which uses dance and comedy sketches to talk about sex.“We distract them with dance and humour and then we transmit those important messages about sex without offending them,” explains Abdoulaye. Sexuality, STIs, consent, early/unintended pregnancy, contraception, and more – no topic is off the table for Abdoulaye and his troupe. Learn more about Abdoulaye Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Aruba Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school Access to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through their office, a delivery service, or in schools. For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student and the team, who are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.Learn more about FPA Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Indonesia Surviving an earthquake as a young mother during COVID-19 Shortly after becoming a mother at 18, Herlina’s home was struck by a powerful earthquake in January, forcing her and her baby Nur to flee. She had to deal with this terrifying situation alone, all during the COVID-19 pandemic as well.The Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) health volunteer team were able to support Herlina by providing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, specifically advising Herlina on postpartum care. The team also gave Herlina dignity kits, which included sanitary pads, underclothes, and soap to maintain proper hygiene, which is a common challenge in displaced communities.Learn more about Herlina Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kiribati Abe the ‘Youth Warrior’ “It’s time to be talking about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) early on, let’s not wait until young people get in trouble.” Abe's voice reveals the energy and passion of someone who is doing what they were destined to do.He is a proud member of the LGBTI community, as well as of his local church – two worlds he tries to bring together in order to spread important healthcare messages among other young people.Along with SRHR, Abe also cares deeply about tackling climate change: "In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves and to clean up the beach. Because we love our Kiribati."Learn more about Abe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Tanzania Creating safe spaces for young people to get healthcare services without judgement 20-year-old Zahra Amri has been working with Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI) since she was 13. Starting out as a Youth Action Movement member, she then became a peer educator for young people and now works at UMATI’s Youth Center.“There are several issues that as youth we must talk about, no matter what,” says Zahra. “The community and parents have myths and misconceptions that youth should not be able to speak about sexual reproductive health. But this situation affects most adolescents who face many challenges in life.For Zahra, it’s imperative that young people are educated about how to identify and report gender-based violence (GBV), as well as learning all about menstruation (particularly for girls living in poverty), gender equality and more.Learn more about Zahra Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

YOUNG PEOPLE
story

| 31 January 2023

In Pictures: International Youth Day 2021

Last year, IPPF and our global Member Associations delivered a staggering 98.2 million sexual and reproductive health services to young people aged 25 and under – that’s approximately 45% of all services delivered. When young people are able to access and manage their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with dignity and care, their chances of thriving in life increase, and as such we work with and for youth populations around the world in many ways. Take a look at some of the ways we have been involved with this and, more importantly, how young people themselves have been the driving force behind the fight for SRHR for all. Malawi Young volunteers connect their peers to information and contraceptive care Kondwani, a 22-year-old Youth Action Movement (YAM) volunteer, not only distributes condoms locally, she also challenges her peers to show her on a wooden model how to use them, because she knows that this can pose a problem for some people.Activities like this in hard-to-reach areas are one of many that the YAM delivers across Malawi. Trained and hosted by Youth Life Centres, which provide sexual and reproductive healthcare aimed at youth, volunteers like Kondwani meet up regularly and reach out to their peers in schools, universities, and on social media.Learn more about Kondwani Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Poland Defending human rights in the face of unrelenting attacks Nadia believes activism can change the world. Over the last few years in Poland, women’s reproductive choices have been stripped back at an alarming rate. The young activist wants to reverse this erosion of women’s rights by campaigning for better reproductive, labour and social rights across the country. Nadia is painfully aware that in Poland, where public discourse is dominated by men, the belief that “children and young women have no voice” still reigns.As a result of her activism, Nadia has become the target of visceral personal attacks online, unrelenting violent behaviour, sexism & discrimination – but she hasn't given up.Learn more about Nadia Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Mali Using street dance to teach about consent, contraception and more Abdoulaye Camara is the best dancer in the neighbourhood, and he’s not afraid to show it. But Abdoulaye’s moves aren't just for fun – he's head of the dance troupe of the Youth Action Movement, belonging to the Association Malienne pour la Protection et la Promotion de la Famille, which uses dance and comedy sketches to talk about sex.“We distract them with dance and humour and then we transmit those important messages about sex without offending them,” explains Abdoulaye. Sexuality, STIs, consent, early/unintended pregnancy, contraception, and more – no topic is off the table for Abdoulaye and his troupe. Learn more about Abdoulaye Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Aruba Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school Access to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through their office, a delivery service, or in schools. For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student and the team, who are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.Learn more about FPA Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Indonesia Surviving an earthquake as a young mother during COVID-19 Shortly after becoming a mother at 18, Herlina’s home was struck by a powerful earthquake in January, forcing her and her baby Nur to flee. She had to deal with this terrifying situation alone, all during the COVID-19 pandemic as well.The Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) health volunteer team were able to support Herlina by providing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, specifically advising Herlina on postpartum care. The team also gave Herlina dignity kits, which included sanitary pads, underclothes, and soap to maintain proper hygiene, which is a common challenge in displaced communities.Learn more about Herlina Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kiribati Abe the ‘Youth Warrior’ “It’s time to be talking about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) early on, let’s not wait until young people get in trouble.” Abe's voice reveals the energy and passion of someone who is doing what they were destined to do.He is a proud member of the LGBTI community, as well as of his local church – two worlds he tries to bring together in order to spread important healthcare messages among other young people.Along with SRHR, Abe also cares deeply about tackling climate change: "In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves and to clean up the beach. Because we love our Kiribati."Learn more about Abe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Tanzania Creating safe spaces for young people to get healthcare services without judgement 20-year-old Zahra Amri has been working with Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI) since she was 13. Starting out as a Youth Action Movement member, she then became a peer educator for young people and now works at UMATI’s Youth Center.“There are several issues that as youth we must talk about, no matter what,” says Zahra. “The community and parents have myths and misconceptions that youth should not be able to speak about sexual reproductive health. But this situation affects most adolescents who face many challenges in life.For Zahra, it’s imperative that young people are educated about how to identify and report gender-based violence (GBV), as well as learning all about menstruation (particularly for girls living in poverty), gender equality and more.Learn more about Zahra Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

aruba
story

| 26 May 2021

COVID-19 inspires new approach to reaching young people during lockdown

Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare for all, regardless of age, is at the core of Famia Planea Aruba’s (FPA) work. Over the years FPA has developed different information packages specifically aimed at reaching and supporting young people, families, and educators.   The inspiration for delivering comprehensive sexuality education digitally to young people was propelled by the COVID-19 lockdown. Like other frontline healthcare providers, FPA was faced with unforeseen challenges about how to continue reaching their communities. Undeterred, the team embraced the challenge to create, develop, and launch FPA’s first Online Puberty Educational News Program (OPEN).   Responding to clients' needs digitally  “In the last few years, FPA’s in-school Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program was growing rapidly, and then all of a sudden we hit a wall; our Island was in complete lockdown and all schools were closed. At first, we were very sad, since we were fully booked for the upcoming few months, and would lose the opportunity to reach thousands of young people”, says Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director.   Typically, during April and May FPA usually focuses on students between the ages of 11 and 13 and supporting with the transition from elementary school to secondary school. At this age young people are starting to experience changes to their bodies and hormones.   “We were all of a sudden bombarded with parents who started requesting one-on-one counselling sessions for their kids, but due to safety regulations this was not an easy option. That was when we started looking for a way to reach both parent and child in the safety of their own homes. By converting materials used during our in-person CSE program, we developed an educational video that can be viewed by both parent and child”, says Evelyn.  The OPEN platform has been designed with a colourful background, emojis, and animation to appeal to its target audience. Users can access valuable information through the FAQ section, international news, and video content such as an interview with a Family Physician.   “The filming and editing were the longest and most difficult part of the entire process, but once it was launched, we immediately saw that is was completely worth it, reaching over 42,000 people on social media”, Evelyn says.  “I know it's all part of the growing up process”  Jeanira, 37, is a doctor’s assistant and has two young children aged two and 12. She has been a member of FPA for many years, but only recently learned that FPA provides healthcare for all ages and stages of life – particularly young people.   “About a year ago I had begun researching the best way and time to start talking to my daughter about her upcoming body changes, sexuality, and puberty in general”, explains Jeanira.  It was a family member who suggested the FPA video on social media about puberty that was in Jeanira’s native language.   “The video is fun, educational, featured local professionals and related to my daughter’s age. I love the fact that I could introduce the video to her and let her watch it in her own comfort zone. At the end, it did stimulate conversations and questions for a few days after and it truly made it easier for us to talk about some of the topics that can sometimes be a little hard to approach”, says Jeanira.  11-year-old Xiqiën really enjoyed the video: “My favourite part was to be able to recognize some changes that I am going through right now. There are some changes that I would like to skip but I know it’s all part of the growing up process. I’m so thankful that FPA had the idea to make such a fun video for us to learn from. There was some stuff that I already knew, but I also learned some new things. I did ask my mom a lot of questions after the video, mostly because they said that everyone is different, and I really wanted to know how my mom is different from me. I don’t feel quite as worried to talk to my mom about these things anymore, I know that she will try to help.”    

aruba
story

| 31 January 2023

COVID-19 inspires new approach to reaching young people during lockdown

Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare for all, regardless of age, is at the core of Famia Planea Aruba’s (FPA) work. Over the years FPA has developed different information packages specifically aimed at reaching and supporting young people, families, and educators.   The inspiration for delivering comprehensive sexuality education digitally to young people was propelled by the COVID-19 lockdown. Like other frontline healthcare providers, FPA was faced with unforeseen challenges about how to continue reaching their communities. Undeterred, the team embraced the challenge to create, develop, and launch FPA’s first Online Puberty Educational News Program (OPEN).   Responding to clients' needs digitally  “In the last few years, FPA’s in-school Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program was growing rapidly, and then all of a sudden we hit a wall; our Island was in complete lockdown and all schools were closed. At first, we were very sad, since we were fully booked for the upcoming few months, and would lose the opportunity to reach thousands of young people”, says Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director.   Typically, during April and May FPA usually focuses on students between the ages of 11 and 13 and supporting with the transition from elementary school to secondary school. At this age young people are starting to experience changes to their bodies and hormones.   “We were all of a sudden bombarded with parents who started requesting one-on-one counselling sessions for their kids, but due to safety regulations this was not an easy option. That was when we started looking for a way to reach both parent and child in the safety of their own homes. By converting materials used during our in-person CSE program, we developed an educational video that can be viewed by both parent and child”, says Evelyn.  The OPEN platform has been designed with a colourful background, emojis, and animation to appeal to its target audience. Users can access valuable information through the FAQ section, international news, and video content such as an interview with a Family Physician.   “The filming and editing were the longest and most difficult part of the entire process, but once it was launched, we immediately saw that is was completely worth it, reaching over 42,000 people on social media”, Evelyn says.  “I know it's all part of the growing up process”  Jeanira, 37, is a doctor’s assistant and has two young children aged two and 12. She has been a member of FPA for many years, but only recently learned that FPA provides healthcare for all ages and stages of life – particularly young people.   “About a year ago I had begun researching the best way and time to start talking to my daughter about her upcoming body changes, sexuality, and puberty in general”, explains Jeanira.  It was a family member who suggested the FPA video on social media about puberty that was in Jeanira’s native language.   “The video is fun, educational, featured local professionals and related to my daughter’s age. I love the fact that I could introduce the video to her and let her watch it in her own comfort zone. At the end, it did stimulate conversations and questions for a few days after and it truly made it easier for us to talk about some of the topics that can sometimes be a little hard to approach”, says Jeanira.  11-year-old Xiqiën really enjoyed the video: “My favourite part was to be able to recognize some changes that I am going through right now. There are some changes that I would like to skip but I know it’s all part of the growing up process. I’m so thankful that FPA had the idea to make such a fun video for us to learn from. There was some stuff that I already knew, but I also learned some new things. I did ask my mom a lot of questions after the video, mostly because they said that everyone is different, and I really wanted to know how my mom is different from me. I don’t feel quite as worried to talk to my mom about these things anymore, I know that she will try to help.”    

Healthcare worker
story

| 26 May 2021

Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school

Accessibility to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through the office, delivery service, or in schools.   For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.   “One of my first experiences providing comprehensive sex education with FPA was at the EPB School, during my education as a social worker. Many years later I still very much enjoy this”, says Richenella, FPA’s Finance and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) support staff.  Building trust  FPA’s client is at the heart of its healthcare provision. The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student, as well as efficiency for the team being familiar with specific students and cases. They are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.  “The consultations are always fun; you get a change of scenery by stepping out of the office. Over the years you see so many faces and still somehow you manage to remember most of them. After just a few visits you can start to build a profile of most students; you can start to tell who the class clown is, the Mister Popular, the shy one, the loud one, and the one who just wants to take his time to avoid going back to class”, Richenella laughs.  Working in partnership with the school social worker   FPA places great value on the 14-year relationship they have with Adriana, the social worker at EPB San Nicolas School. Adriana is the person who has the most contact with the students, and the one most student’s turn to when they need help.   “Most of the time you get to have fun with the students, however every now and then you will come across a heartbreaking case. Since Aruba has so many different migrants, very often you will come across one person who is not insured at the moment, who needs products and can’t afford it – and you figure out a way to help”, Adriana says.  For registered youth under 21 years of age, the costs of the healthcare provision are covered by the national health insurance, however, some students fall outside of the system.  “For our second, third and fourth-year students, FPA has been collaborating with us to provide a monthly session where the students receive contraceptives and guidance on school grounds. Since around this age, most of our students are already sexually active, we try to help them stay safe in and out of school.”  “The love, patience, and dedication that FPA has shown our students over the years are outstanding. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we had to stop the consultation hours, but thankfully we are now back at it, bigger and better. Due to the collaboration with FPA we were able to finish out our 2018-2019 school year with no new pregnancies, which was a first for our school. We hope to accomplish this again, now that we can continue our consultations, and keep our kids educated and in school for as long as we can so they can achieve the best possible future”, Adriana says.   

Healthcare worker
story

| 31 January 2023

Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school

Accessibility to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through the office, delivery service, or in schools.   For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.   “One of my first experiences providing comprehensive sex education with FPA was at the EPB School, during my education as a social worker. Many years later I still very much enjoy this”, says Richenella, FPA’s Finance and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) support staff.  Building trust  FPA’s client is at the heart of its healthcare provision. The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student, as well as efficiency for the team being familiar with specific students and cases. They are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.  “The consultations are always fun; you get a change of scenery by stepping out of the office. Over the years you see so many faces and still somehow you manage to remember most of them. After just a few visits you can start to build a profile of most students; you can start to tell who the class clown is, the Mister Popular, the shy one, the loud one, and the one who just wants to take his time to avoid going back to class”, Richenella laughs.  Working in partnership with the school social worker   FPA places great value on the 14-year relationship they have with Adriana, the social worker at EPB San Nicolas School. Adriana is the person who has the most contact with the students, and the one most student’s turn to when they need help.   “Most of the time you get to have fun with the students, however every now and then you will come across a heartbreaking case. Since Aruba has so many different migrants, very often you will come across one person who is not insured at the moment, who needs products and can’t afford it – and you figure out a way to help”, Adriana says.  For registered youth under 21 years of age, the costs of the healthcare provision are covered by the national health insurance, however, some students fall outside of the system.  “For our second, third and fourth-year students, FPA has been collaborating with us to provide a monthly session where the students receive contraceptives and guidance on school grounds. Since around this age, most of our students are already sexually active, we try to help them stay safe in and out of school.”  “The love, patience, and dedication that FPA has shown our students over the years are outstanding. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we had to stop the consultation hours, but thankfully we are now back at it, bigger and better. Due to the collaboration with FPA we were able to finish out our 2018-2019 school year with no new pregnancies, which was a first for our school. We hope to accomplish this again, now that we can continue our consultations, and keep our kids educated and in school for as long as we can so they can achieve the best possible future”, Adriana says.   

Aminata Sonogo in school
story

| 08 January 2021

"Girls have to know their rights"

Aminata Sonogo listened intently to the group of young volunteers as they explained different types of contraception, and raised her hand with questions. Sitting at a wooden school desk at 22, Aminata is older than most of her classmates, but she shrugs off the looks and comments. She has fought hard to be here. Aminata is studying in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Just a quarter of Malian girls complete secondary school, according to UNICEF. But even if she will graduate later than most, Aminata is conscious of how far she has come. “I wanted to go to high school but I needed to pass some exams to get here. In the end, it took me three years,” she said. At the start of her final year of collège, or middle school, Aminata got pregnant. She is far from alone: 38% of Malian girls will be pregnant or a mother by the age of 18. Abortion is illegal in Mali except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, and even then it is difficult to obtain, according to medical professionals. Determined to take control of her life “I felt a lot of stigma from my classmates and even my teachers. I tried to ignore them and carry on going to school and studying. But I gave birth to my daughter just before my exams, so I couldn’t take them.” Aminata went through her pregnancy with little support, as the father of her daughter, Fatoumata, distanced himself from her after arguments about their situation. “I have had some problems with the father of the baby. We fought a lot and I didn’t see him for most of the pregnancy, right until the birth,” she recalled. The first year of her daughter’s life was a blur of doctors’ appointments, as Fatoumata was often ill. It seemed Aminata’s chances of finishing school were slipping away. But gradually her family began to take a more active role in caring for her daughter, and she began demanding more help from Fatoumata’s father too. She went back to school in the autumn, 18 months after Fatoumata’s birth and with more determination than ever. She no longer had time to hang out with friends after school, but attended classes, took care of her daughter and then studied more. At the end of the academic year, it paid off. “I did it. I passed my exams and now I am in high school,” Aminata said, smiling and relaxing her shoulders.  "Family planning protects girls" Aminata’s next goal is her high school diploma, and obtaining it while trying to navigate the difficult world of relationships and sex. “It’s something you can talk about with your close friends. I would be too ashamed to talk about this with my parents,” she said. She is guided by visits from the young volunteers of the Association Malienne pour la Protection et Promotion de la Famille (AMPPF), and shares her own story with classmates who she sees at risk. “The guys come up to you and tell you that you are beautiful, but if you don’t want to sleep with them they will rape you. That’s the choice. You can accept or you can refuse and they will rape you anyway,” she said. “Girls have to know their rights”. After listening to the volunteers talk about all the different options for contraception, she is reviewing her own choices. “Family planning protects girls,” Aminata said. “It means we can protect ourselves from pregnancies that we don’t want”.

Aminata Sonogo in school
story

| 31 January 2023

"Girls have to know their rights"

Aminata Sonogo listened intently to the group of young volunteers as they explained different types of contraception, and raised her hand with questions. Sitting at a wooden school desk at 22, Aminata is older than most of her classmates, but she shrugs off the looks and comments. She has fought hard to be here. Aminata is studying in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Just a quarter of Malian girls complete secondary school, according to UNICEF. But even if she will graduate later than most, Aminata is conscious of how far she has come. “I wanted to go to high school but I needed to pass some exams to get here. In the end, it took me three years,” she said. At the start of her final year of collège, or middle school, Aminata got pregnant. She is far from alone: 38% of Malian girls will be pregnant or a mother by the age of 18. Abortion is illegal in Mali except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, and even then it is difficult to obtain, according to medical professionals. Determined to take control of her life “I felt a lot of stigma from my classmates and even my teachers. I tried to ignore them and carry on going to school and studying. But I gave birth to my daughter just before my exams, so I couldn’t take them.” Aminata went through her pregnancy with little support, as the father of her daughter, Fatoumata, distanced himself from her after arguments about their situation. “I have had some problems with the father of the baby. We fought a lot and I didn’t see him for most of the pregnancy, right until the birth,” she recalled. The first year of her daughter’s life was a blur of doctors’ appointments, as Fatoumata was often ill. It seemed Aminata’s chances of finishing school were slipping away. But gradually her family began to take a more active role in caring for her daughter, and she began demanding more help from Fatoumata’s father too. She went back to school in the autumn, 18 months after Fatoumata’s birth and with more determination than ever. She no longer had time to hang out with friends after school, but attended classes, took care of her daughter and then studied more. At the end of the academic year, it paid off. “I did it. I passed my exams and now I am in high school,” Aminata said, smiling and relaxing her shoulders.  "Family planning protects girls" Aminata’s next goal is her high school diploma, and obtaining it while trying to navigate the difficult world of relationships and sex. “It’s something you can talk about with your close friends. I would be too ashamed to talk about this with my parents,” she said. She is guided by visits from the young volunteers of the Association Malienne pour la Protection et Promotion de la Famille (AMPPF), and shares her own story with classmates who she sees at risk. “The guys come up to you and tell you that you are beautiful, but if you don’t want to sleep with them they will rape you. That’s the choice. You can accept or you can refuse and they will rape you anyway,” she said. “Girls have to know their rights”. After listening to the volunteers talk about all the different options for contraception, she is reviewing her own choices. “Family planning protects girls,” Aminata said. “It means we can protect ourselves from pregnancies that we don’t want”.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 31 January 2023

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Jumeya Mohammed Amin
story

| 28 July 2020

"I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality"

Seventeen-year-old student Jumeya Mohammed Amin started educating other people about sexual and reproductive health when she was 14 years old. She trained as a ‘change agent’ for her community through the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia’s south west office in Jimma, the capital of Oromia region. Amin comes from a small, conservative town about 20km outside the city. "I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality, because they [men in her community] start having sex with girls at a young age, even with girls as young as nine years old, because of a lack of education." "They suddenly had to act like grown-up women" "Before I started this training I saw the majority of students having sex early and getting pregnant because of a lack of information, and they would have to leave home and school. Boys would be disciplined and if they were seen doing things on campus, expelled. Girls younger than me at the time were married. The youngest was only nine. They would have to go back home and could not play anymore or go to school. They suddenly had to act like grown-up women, like old ladies. They never go back to school after marriage. My teacher chose me for this training and told me about the programme. I like the truth so I was not afraid. I heard about a lot of problems out there during my training and I told myself I had to be strong and go and fight this." "I have a brother and four sisters and I practiced my training on my family first. They were so shocked by what I was saying they were silent. Even on the second day, they said nothing. On the third day, I told them I was going to teach people in schools this, so I asked them why they had stayed silent. They told me that because of cultural and religious issues, people would not accept these ideas and stories, but they gave me permission to go and do it. Because of my efforts, people in my school have not started having sex early and the girls get free sanitary pads through the clubs so they no longer need to stay home during periods." Training hundreds of her peers "I know people in my community who have unplanned pregnancies consult traditional healers [for abortions] and take drugs and they suffer. I know one girl from 10th grade who was 15 years old and died from this in 2017. The healers sometimes use tree leaves in their concoctions.  We tell them where they can go and get different [safe abortion] services. The first round of trainings I did was with 400 students over four months and eight sessions in 2017. Last year, I trained 600 people and this year in the first trimester of school I trained 400. When students finish the course, they want to do it again, and when we forget we have a session, they come and remind me. At school, they call me a teacher. I’d like to be a doctor and this training has really made me want to do that more."

Jumeya Mohammed Amin
story

| 31 January 2023

"I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality"

Seventeen-year-old student Jumeya Mohammed Amin started educating other people about sexual and reproductive health when she was 14 years old. She trained as a ‘change agent’ for her community through the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia’s south west office in Jimma, the capital of Oromia region. Amin comes from a small, conservative town about 20km outside the city. "I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality, because they [men in her community] start having sex with girls at a young age, even with girls as young as nine years old, because of a lack of education." "They suddenly had to act like grown-up women" "Before I started this training I saw the majority of students having sex early and getting pregnant because of a lack of information, and they would have to leave home and school. Boys would be disciplined and if they were seen doing things on campus, expelled. Girls younger than me at the time were married. The youngest was only nine. They would have to go back home and could not play anymore or go to school. They suddenly had to act like grown-up women, like old ladies. They never go back to school after marriage. My teacher chose me for this training and told me about the programme. I like the truth so I was not afraid. I heard about a lot of problems out there during my training and I told myself I had to be strong and go and fight this." "I have a brother and four sisters and I practiced my training on my family first. They were so shocked by what I was saying they were silent. Even on the second day, they said nothing. On the third day, I told them I was going to teach people in schools this, so I asked them why they had stayed silent. They told me that because of cultural and religious issues, people would not accept these ideas and stories, but they gave me permission to go and do it. Because of my efforts, people in my school have not started having sex early and the girls get free sanitary pads through the clubs so they no longer need to stay home during periods." Training hundreds of her peers "I know people in my community who have unplanned pregnancies consult traditional healers [for abortions] and take drugs and they suffer. I know one girl from 10th grade who was 15 years old and died from this in 2017. The healers sometimes use tree leaves in their concoctions.  We tell them where they can go and get different [safe abortion] services. The first round of trainings I did was with 400 students over four months and eight sessions in 2017. Last year, I trained 600 people and this year in the first trimester of school I trained 400. When students finish the course, they want to do it again, and when we forget we have a session, they come and remind me. At school, they call me a teacher. I’d like to be a doctor and this training has really made me want to do that more."

YOUNG PEOPLE
story

| 10 August 2021

In Pictures: International Youth Day 2021

Last year, IPPF and our global Member Associations delivered a staggering 98.2 million sexual and reproductive health services to young people aged 25 and under – that’s approximately 45% of all services delivered. When young people are able to access and manage their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with dignity and care, their chances of thriving in life increase, and as such we work with and for youth populations around the world in many ways. Take a look at some of the ways we have been involved with this and, more importantly, how young people themselves have been the driving force behind the fight for SRHR for all. Malawi Young volunteers connect their peers to information and contraceptive care Kondwani, a 22-year-old Youth Action Movement (YAM) volunteer, not only distributes condoms locally, she also challenges her peers to show her on a wooden model how to use them, because she knows that this can pose a problem for some people.Activities like this in hard-to-reach areas are one of many that the YAM delivers across Malawi. Trained and hosted by Youth Life Centres, which provide sexual and reproductive healthcare aimed at youth, volunteers like Kondwani meet up regularly and reach out to their peers in schools, universities, and on social media.Learn more about Kondwani Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Poland Defending human rights in the face of unrelenting attacks Nadia believes activism can change the world. Over the last few years in Poland, women’s reproductive choices have been stripped back at an alarming rate. The young activist wants to reverse this erosion of women’s rights by campaigning for better reproductive, labour and social rights across the country. Nadia is painfully aware that in Poland, where public discourse is dominated by men, the belief that “children and young women have no voice” still reigns.As a result of her activism, Nadia has become the target of visceral personal attacks online, unrelenting violent behaviour, sexism & discrimination – but she hasn't given up.Learn more about Nadia Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Mali Using street dance to teach about consent, contraception and more Abdoulaye Camara is the best dancer in the neighbourhood, and he’s not afraid to show it. But Abdoulaye’s moves aren't just for fun – he's head of the dance troupe of the Youth Action Movement, belonging to the Association Malienne pour la Protection et la Promotion de la Famille, which uses dance and comedy sketches to talk about sex.“We distract them with dance and humour and then we transmit those important messages about sex without offending them,” explains Abdoulaye. Sexuality, STIs, consent, early/unintended pregnancy, contraception, and more – no topic is off the table for Abdoulaye and his troupe. Learn more about Abdoulaye Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Aruba Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school Access to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through their office, a delivery service, or in schools. For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student and the team, who are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.Learn more about FPA Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Indonesia Surviving an earthquake as a young mother during COVID-19 Shortly after becoming a mother at 18, Herlina’s home was struck by a powerful earthquake in January, forcing her and her baby Nur to flee. She had to deal with this terrifying situation alone, all during the COVID-19 pandemic as well.The Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) health volunteer team were able to support Herlina by providing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, specifically advising Herlina on postpartum care. The team also gave Herlina dignity kits, which included sanitary pads, underclothes, and soap to maintain proper hygiene, which is a common challenge in displaced communities.Learn more about Herlina Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kiribati Abe the ‘Youth Warrior’ “It’s time to be talking about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) early on, let’s not wait until young people get in trouble.” Abe's voice reveals the energy and passion of someone who is doing what they were destined to do.He is a proud member of the LGBTI community, as well as of his local church – two worlds he tries to bring together in order to spread important healthcare messages among other young people.Along with SRHR, Abe also cares deeply about tackling climate change: "In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves and to clean up the beach. Because we love our Kiribati."Learn more about Abe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Tanzania Creating safe spaces for young people to get healthcare services without judgement 20-year-old Zahra Amri has been working with Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI) since she was 13. Starting out as a Youth Action Movement member, she then became a peer educator for young people and now works at UMATI’s Youth Center.“There are several issues that as youth we must talk about, no matter what,” says Zahra. “The community and parents have myths and misconceptions that youth should not be able to speak about sexual reproductive health. But this situation affects most adolescents who face many challenges in life.For Zahra, it’s imperative that young people are educated about how to identify and report gender-based violence (GBV), as well as learning all about menstruation (particularly for girls living in poverty), gender equality and more.Learn more about Zahra Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

YOUNG PEOPLE
story

| 31 January 2023

In Pictures: International Youth Day 2021

Last year, IPPF and our global Member Associations delivered a staggering 98.2 million sexual and reproductive health services to young people aged 25 and under – that’s approximately 45% of all services delivered. When young people are able to access and manage their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with dignity and care, their chances of thriving in life increase, and as such we work with and for youth populations around the world in many ways. Take a look at some of the ways we have been involved with this and, more importantly, how young people themselves have been the driving force behind the fight for SRHR for all. Malawi Young volunteers connect their peers to information and contraceptive care Kondwani, a 22-year-old Youth Action Movement (YAM) volunteer, not only distributes condoms locally, she also challenges her peers to show her on a wooden model how to use them, because she knows that this can pose a problem for some people.Activities like this in hard-to-reach areas are one of many that the YAM delivers across Malawi. Trained and hosted by Youth Life Centres, which provide sexual and reproductive healthcare aimed at youth, volunteers like Kondwani meet up regularly and reach out to their peers in schools, universities, and on social media.Learn more about Kondwani Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Poland Defending human rights in the face of unrelenting attacks Nadia believes activism can change the world. Over the last few years in Poland, women’s reproductive choices have been stripped back at an alarming rate. The young activist wants to reverse this erosion of women’s rights by campaigning for better reproductive, labour and social rights across the country. Nadia is painfully aware that in Poland, where public discourse is dominated by men, the belief that “children and young women have no voice” still reigns.As a result of her activism, Nadia has become the target of visceral personal attacks online, unrelenting violent behaviour, sexism & discrimination – but she hasn't given up.Learn more about Nadia Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Mali Using street dance to teach about consent, contraception and more Abdoulaye Camara is the best dancer in the neighbourhood, and he’s not afraid to show it. But Abdoulaye’s moves aren't just for fun – he's head of the dance troupe of the Youth Action Movement, belonging to the Association Malienne pour la Protection et la Promotion de la Famille, which uses dance and comedy sketches to talk about sex.“We distract them with dance and humour and then we transmit those important messages about sex without offending them,” explains Abdoulaye. Sexuality, STIs, consent, early/unintended pregnancy, contraception, and more – no topic is off the table for Abdoulaye and his troupe. Learn more about Abdoulaye Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Aruba Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school Access to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through their office, a delivery service, or in schools. For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student and the team, who are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.Learn more about FPA Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Indonesia Surviving an earthquake as a young mother during COVID-19 Shortly after becoming a mother at 18, Herlina’s home was struck by a powerful earthquake in January, forcing her and her baby Nur to flee. She had to deal with this terrifying situation alone, all during the COVID-19 pandemic as well.The Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association (IPPA) health volunteer team were able to support Herlina by providing sexual and reproductive healthcare services, specifically advising Herlina on postpartum care. The team also gave Herlina dignity kits, which included sanitary pads, underclothes, and soap to maintain proper hygiene, which is a common challenge in displaced communities.Learn more about Herlina Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Kiribati Abe the ‘Youth Warrior’ “It’s time to be talking about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) early on, let’s not wait until young people get in trouble.” Abe's voice reveals the energy and passion of someone who is doing what they were destined to do.He is a proud member of the LGBTI community, as well as of his local church – two worlds he tries to bring together in order to spread important healthcare messages among other young people.Along with SRHR, Abe also cares deeply about tackling climate change: "In my role as a youth worker and activist, I tell people to fight climate change: to grow more mangroves and to clean up the beach. Because we love our Kiribati."Learn more about Abe Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email Tanzania Creating safe spaces for young people to get healthcare services without judgement 20-year-old Zahra Amri has been working with Chama cha Uzazi na Malezi Bora Tanzania (UMATI) since she was 13. Starting out as a Youth Action Movement member, she then became a peer educator for young people and now works at UMATI’s Youth Center.“There are several issues that as youth we must talk about, no matter what,” says Zahra. “The community and parents have myths and misconceptions that youth should not be able to speak about sexual reproductive health. But this situation affects most adolescents who face many challenges in life.For Zahra, it’s imperative that young people are educated about how to identify and report gender-based violence (GBV), as well as learning all about menstruation (particularly for girls living in poverty), gender equality and more.Learn more about Zahra Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via WhatsApp Share via Email

aruba
story

| 26 May 2021

COVID-19 inspires new approach to reaching young people during lockdown

Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare for all, regardless of age, is at the core of Famia Planea Aruba’s (FPA) work. Over the years FPA has developed different information packages specifically aimed at reaching and supporting young people, families, and educators.   The inspiration for delivering comprehensive sexuality education digitally to young people was propelled by the COVID-19 lockdown. Like other frontline healthcare providers, FPA was faced with unforeseen challenges about how to continue reaching their communities. Undeterred, the team embraced the challenge to create, develop, and launch FPA’s first Online Puberty Educational News Program (OPEN).   Responding to clients' needs digitally  “In the last few years, FPA’s in-school Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program was growing rapidly, and then all of a sudden we hit a wall; our Island was in complete lockdown and all schools were closed. At first, we were very sad, since we were fully booked for the upcoming few months, and would lose the opportunity to reach thousands of young people”, says Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director.   Typically, during April and May FPA usually focuses on students between the ages of 11 and 13 and supporting with the transition from elementary school to secondary school. At this age young people are starting to experience changes to their bodies and hormones.   “We were all of a sudden bombarded with parents who started requesting one-on-one counselling sessions for their kids, but due to safety regulations this was not an easy option. That was when we started looking for a way to reach both parent and child in the safety of their own homes. By converting materials used during our in-person CSE program, we developed an educational video that can be viewed by both parent and child”, says Evelyn.  The OPEN platform has been designed with a colourful background, emojis, and animation to appeal to its target audience. Users can access valuable information through the FAQ section, international news, and video content such as an interview with a Family Physician.   “The filming and editing were the longest and most difficult part of the entire process, but once it was launched, we immediately saw that is was completely worth it, reaching over 42,000 people on social media”, Evelyn says.  “I know it's all part of the growing up process”  Jeanira, 37, is a doctor’s assistant and has two young children aged two and 12. She has been a member of FPA for many years, but only recently learned that FPA provides healthcare for all ages and stages of life – particularly young people.   “About a year ago I had begun researching the best way and time to start talking to my daughter about her upcoming body changes, sexuality, and puberty in general”, explains Jeanira.  It was a family member who suggested the FPA video on social media about puberty that was in Jeanira’s native language.   “The video is fun, educational, featured local professionals and related to my daughter’s age. I love the fact that I could introduce the video to her and let her watch it in her own comfort zone. At the end, it did stimulate conversations and questions for a few days after and it truly made it easier for us to talk about some of the topics that can sometimes be a little hard to approach”, says Jeanira.  11-year-old Xiqiën really enjoyed the video: “My favourite part was to be able to recognize some changes that I am going through right now. There are some changes that I would like to skip but I know it’s all part of the growing up process. I’m so thankful that FPA had the idea to make such a fun video for us to learn from. There was some stuff that I already knew, but I also learned some new things. I did ask my mom a lot of questions after the video, mostly because they said that everyone is different, and I really wanted to know how my mom is different from me. I don’t feel quite as worried to talk to my mom about these things anymore, I know that she will try to help.”    

aruba
story

| 31 January 2023

COVID-19 inspires new approach to reaching young people during lockdown

Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare for all, regardless of age, is at the core of Famia Planea Aruba’s (FPA) work. Over the years FPA has developed different information packages specifically aimed at reaching and supporting young people, families, and educators.   The inspiration for delivering comprehensive sexuality education digitally to young people was propelled by the COVID-19 lockdown. Like other frontline healthcare providers, FPA was faced with unforeseen challenges about how to continue reaching their communities. Undeterred, the team embraced the challenge to create, develop, and launch FPA’s first Online Puberty Educational News Program (OPEN).   Responding to clients' needs digitally  “In the last few years, FPA’s in-school Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program was growing rapidly, and then all of a sudden we hit a wall; our Island was in complete lockdown and all schools were closed. At first, we were very sad, since we were fully booked for the upcoming few months, and would lose the opportunity to reach thousands of young people”, says Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director.   Typically, during April and May FPA usually focuses on students between the ages of 11 and 13 and supporting with the transition from elementary school to secondary school. At this age young people are starting to experience changes to their bodies and hormones.   “We were all of a sudden bombarded with parents who started requesting one-on-one counselling sessions for their kids, but due to safety regulations this was not an easy option. That was when we started looking for a way to reach both parent and child in the safety of their own homes. By converting materials used during our in-person CSE program, we developed an educational video that can be viewed by both parent and child”, says Evelyn.  The OPEN platform has been designed with a colourful background, emojis, and animation to appeal to its target audience. Users can access valuable information through the FAQ section, international news, and video content such as an interview with a Family Physician.   “The filming and editing were the longest and most difficult part of the entire process, but once it was launched, we immediately saw that is was completely worth it, reaching over 42,000 people on social media”, Evelyn says.  “I know it's all part of the growing up process”  Jeanira, 37, is a doctor’s assistant and has two young children aged two and 12. She has been a member of FPA for many years, but only recently learned that FPA provides healthcare for all ages and stages of life – particularly young people.   “About a year ago I had begun researching the best way and time to start talking to my daughter about her upcoming body changes, sexuality, and puberty in general”, explains Jeanira.  It was a family member who suggested the FPA video on social media about puberty that was in Jeanira’s native language.   “The video is fun, educational, featured local professionals and related to my daughter’s age. I love the fact that I could introduce the video to her and let her watch it in her own comfort zone. At the end, it did stimulate conversations and questions for a few days after and it truly made it easier for us to talk about some of the topics that can sometimes be a little hard to approach”, says Jeanira.  11-year-old Xiqiën really enjoyed the video: “My favourite part was to be able to recognize some changes that I am going through right now. There are some changes that I would like to skip but I know it’s all part of the growing up process. I’m so thankful that FPA had the idea to make such a fun video for us to learn from. There was some stuff that I already knew, but I also learned some new things. I did ask my mom a lot of questions after the video, mostly because they said that everyone is different, and I really wanted to know how my mom is different from me. I don’t feel quite as worried to talk to my mom about these things anymore, I know that she will try to help.”    

Healthcare worker
story

| 26 May 2021

Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school

Accessibility to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through the office, delivery service, or in schools.   For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.   “One of my first experiences providing comprehensive sex education with FPA was at the EPB School, during my education as a social worker. Many years later I still very much enjoy this”, says Richenella, FPA’s Finance and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) support staff.  Building trust  FPA’s client is at the heart of its healthcare provision. The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student, as well as efficiency for the team being familiar with specific students and cases. They are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.  “The consultations are always fun; you get a change of scenery by stepping out of the office. Over the years you see so many faces and still somehow you manage to remember most of them. After just a few visits you can start to build a profile of most students; you can start to tell who the class clown is, the Mister Popular, the shy one, the loud one, and the one who just wants to take his time to avoid going back to class”, Richenella laughs.  Working in partnership with the school social worker   FPA places great value on the 14-year relationship they have with Adriana, the social worker at EPB San Nicolas School. Adriana is the person who has the most contact with the students, and the one most student’s turn to when they need help.   “Most of the time you get to have fun with the students, however every now and then you will come across a heartbreaking case. Since Aruba has so many different migrants, very often you will come across one person who is not insured at the moment, who needs products and can’t afford it – and you figure out a way to help”, Adriana says.  For registered youth under 21 years of age, the costs of the healthcare provision are covered by the national health insurance, however, some students fall outside of the system.  “For our second, third and fourth-year students, FPA has been collaborating with us to provide a monthly session where the students receive contraceptives and guidance on school grounds. Since around this age, most of our students are already sexually active, we try to help them stay safe in and out of school.”  “The love, patience, and dedication that FPA has shown our students over the years are outstanding. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we had to stop the consultation hours, but thankfully we are now back at it, bigger and better. Due to the collaboration with FPA we were able to finish out our 2018-2019 school year with no new pregnancies, which was a first for our school. We hope to accomplish this again, now that we can continue our consultations, and keep our kids educated and in school for as long as we can so they can achieve the best possible future”, Adriana says.   

Healthcare worker
story

| 31 January 2023

Providing information and contraceptive care to young people in school

Accessibility to information and contraceptives has always been a priority for Famia Planea Aruba (FPA) – whether through the office, delivery service, or in schools.   For over 15 years FPA has worked in partnership with one of the largest secondary schools on the island. The FPA team visits the school every month to provide guidance, counselling, and contraceptive care to students, and to help ensure they stay in school to complete their education.   “One of my first experiences providing comprehensive sex education with FPA was at the EPB School, during my education as a social worker. Many years later I still very much enjoy this”, says Richenella, FPA’s Finance and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) support staff.  Building trust  FPA’s client is at the heart of its healthcare provision. The FPA team works with students to build trust and ensure they feel safe to talk openly. This helps to provide a sense of consistency for the student, as well as efficiency for the team being familiar with specific students and cases. They are better able to notice if something changes, and if a student needs a referral to a medical doctor or other organization for additional treatment.  “The consultations are always fun; you get a change of scenery by stepping out of the office. Over the years you see so many faces and still somehow you manage to remember most of them. After just a few visits you can start to build a profile of most students; you can start to tell who the class clown is, the Mister Popular, the shy one, the loud one, and the one who just wants to take his time to avoid going back to class”, Richenella laughs.  Working in partnership with the school social worker   FPA places great value on the 14-year relationship they have with Adriana, the social worker at EPB San Nicolas School. Adriana is the person who has the most contact with the students, and the one most student’s turn to when they need help.   “Most of the time you get to have fun with the students, however every now and then you will come across a heartbreaking case. Since Aruba has so many different migrants, very often you will come across one person who is not insured at the moment, who needs products and can’t afford it – and you figure out a way to help”, Adriana says.  For registered youth under 21 years of age, the costs of the healthcare provision are covered by the national health insurance, however, some students fall outside of the system.  “For our second, third and fourth-year students, FPA has been collaborating with us to provide a monthly session where the students receive contraceptives and guidance on school grounds. Since around this age, most of our students are already sexually active, we try to help them stay safe in and out of school.”  “The love, patience, and dedication that FPA has shown our students over the years are outstanding. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis we had to stop the consultation hours, but thankfully we are now back at it, bigger and better. Due to the collaboration with FPA we were able to finish out our 2018-2019 school year with no new pregnancies, which was a first for our school. We hope to accomplish this again, now that we can continue our consultations, and keep our kids educated and in school for as long as we can so they can achieve the best possible future”, Adriana says.   

Aminata Sonogo in school
story

| 08 January 2021

"Girls have to know their rights"

Aminata Sonogo listened intently to the group of young volunteers as they explained different types of contraception, and raised her hand with questions. Sitting at a wooden school desk at 22, Aminata is older than most of her classmates, but she shrugs off the looks and comments. She has fought hard to be here. Aminata is studying in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Just a quarter of Malian girls complete secondary school, according to UNICEF. But even if she will graduate later than most, Aminata is conscious of how far she has come. “I wanted to go to high school but I needed to pass some exams to get here. In the end, it took me three years,” she said. At the start of her final year of collège, or middle school, Aminata got pregnant. She is far from alone: 38% of Malian girls will be pregnant or a mother by the age of 18. Abortion is illegal in Mali except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, and even then it is difficult to obtain, according to medical professionals. Determined to take control of her life “I felt a lot of stigma from my classmates and even my teachers. I tried to ignore them and carry on going to school and studying. But I gave birth to my daughter just before my exams, so I couldn’t take them.” Aminata went through her pregnancy with little support, as the father of her daughter, Fatoumata, distanced himself from her after arguments about their situation. “I have had some problems with the father of the baby. We fought a lot and I didn’t see him for most of the pregnancy, right until the birth,” she recalled. The first year of her daughter’s life was a blur of doctors’ appointments, as Fatoumata was often ill. It seemed Aminata’s chances of finishing school were slipping away. But gradually her family began to take a more active role in caring for her daughter, and she began demanding more help from Fatoumata’s father too. She went back to school in the autumn, 18 months after Fatoumata’s birth and with more determination than ever. She no longer had time to hang out with friends after school, but attended classes, took care of her daughter and then studied more. At the end of the academic year, it paid off. “I did it. I passed my exams and now I am in high school,” Aminata said, smiling and relaxing her shoulders.  "Family planning protects girls" Aminata’s next goal is her high school diploma, and obtaining it while trying to navigate the difficult world of relationships and sex. “It’s something you can talk about with your close friends. I would be too ashamed to talk about this with my parents,” she said. She is guided by visits from the young volunteers of the Association Malienne pour la Protection et Promotion de la Famille (AMPPF), and shares her own story with classmates who she sees at risk. “The guys come up to you and tell you that you are beautiful, but if you don’t want to sleep with them they will rape you. That’s the choice. You can accept or you can refuse and they will rape you anyway,” she said. “Girls have to know their rights”. After listening to the volunteers talk about all the different options for contraception, she is reviewing her own choices. “Family planning protects girls,” Aminata said. “It means we can protect ourselves from pregnancies that we don’t want”.

Aminata Sonogo in school
story

| 31 January 2023

"Girls have to know their rights"

Aminata Sonogo listened intently to the group of young volunteers as they explained different types of contraception, and raised her hand with questions. Sitting at a wooden school desk at 22, Aminata is older than most of her classmates, but she shrugs off the looks and comments. She has fought hard to be here. Aminata is studying in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Just a quarter of Malian girls complete secondary school, according to UNICEF. But even if she will graduate later than most, Aminata is conscious of how far she has come. “I wanted to go to high school but I needed to pass some exams to get here. In the end, it took me three years,” she said. At the start of her final year of collège, or middle school, Aminata got pregnant. She is far from alone: 38% of Malian girls will be pregnant or a mother by the age of 18. Abortion is illegal in Mali except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life, and even then it is difficult to obtain, according to medical professionals. Determined to take control of her life “I felt a lot of stigma from my classmates and even my teachers. I tried to ignore them and carry on going to school and studying. But I gave birth to my daughter just before my exams, so I couldn’t take them.” Aminata went through her pregnancy with little support, as the father of her daughter, Fatoumata, distanced himself from her after arguments about their situation. “I have had some problems with the father of the baby. We fought a lot and I didn’t see him for most of the pregnancy, right until the birth,” she recalled. The first year of her daughter’s life was a blur of doctors’ appointments, as Fatoumata was often ill. It seemed Aminata’s chances of finishing school were slipping away. But gradually her family began to take a more active role in caring for her daughter, and she began demanding more help from Fatoumata’s father too. She went back to school in the autumn, 18 months after Fatoumata’s birth and with more determination than ever. She no longer had time to hang out with friends after school, but attended classes, took care of her daughter and then studied more. At the end of the academic year, it paid off. “I did it. I passed my exams and now I am in high school,” Aminata said, smiling and relaxing her shoulders.  "Family planning protects girls" Aminata’s next goal is her high school diploma, and obtaining it while trying to navigate the difficult world of relationships and sex. “It’s something you can talk about with your close friends. I would be too ashamed to talk about this with my parents,” she said. She is guided by visits from the young volunteers of the Association Malienne pour la Protection et Promotion de la Famille (AMPPF), and shares her own story with classmates who she sees at risk. “The guys come up to you and tell you that you are beautiful, but if you don’t want to sleep with them they will rape you. That’s the choice. You can accept or you can refuse and they will rape you anyway,” she said. “Girls have to know their rights”. After listening to the volunteers talk about all the different options for contraception, she is reviewing her own choices. “Family planning protects girls,” Aminata said. “It means we can protect ourselves from pregnancies that we don’t want”.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 08 January 2021

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga
story

| 31 January 2023

"The movement helps girls to know their rights and their bodies"

My name is Fatoumata Yehiya Maiga. I’m 23-years-old, and I’m an IT specialist. I joined the Youth Action Movement at the end of 2018. The head of the movement in Mali is a friend of mine, and I met her before I knew she was the president. She invited me to their events and over time persuaded me to join. I watched them raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health, using sketches and speeches. I learnt a lot. Overcoming taboos I went home and talked about what I had seen and learnt with my family. In Africa, and even more so in the village where I come from in Gao, northern Mali, people don’t talk about these things. I wanted to take my sisters to the events, but every time I spoke about them my relatives would just say it was to teach girls to have sex, and that it’s taboo. That’s not what I believe. I think the movement helps girls, most of all, to know their sexual rights, their bodies, what to do and what not to do to stay healthy and safe. They don’t understand this concept. My family would say it was just a smokescreen to convince girls to get involved in something dirty.  I have had to tell my younger cousins about their periods, for example, when they came from the village to live in the city. One of my cousins was so scared, and told me she was bleeding from her vagina and didn’t know why. We talk about managing periods in the Youth Action Movement, as well as how to manage cramps and feel better. The devastating impact of FGM But there was a much more important reason for me to join the movement. My parents are educated, so me and my sisters were never cut. I learned about female genital mutilation at a conference I attended in 2016. I didn’t know that there were different types of severity and ways that girls could be cut. I hadn’t understood quite how dangerous this practice is. Then, two years ago, I lost my friend Aïssata. She got married young, at 17. She struggled to conceive until she was 23. The day she gave birth, there were complications and she died. The doctors said that the excision was botched and that’s what killed her. From that day on, I decided I needed to teach all the girls in my community about how harmful this practice is for their health. I was so horrified by the way she died. Normally, girls in Mali are cut when they are three or four years old, though for some it’s done at birth. When they are older and get pregnant, I know they face the same challenges as every woman does giving birth, but they also live with the dangerous consequences of this unhealthy practice.  The importance of talking openly  The problem lies with the families. I want us, as a movement, to talk with the parents and explain to them how they can contribute to their children’s sexual health. I wish it were no longer a taboo between parents and their girls. But if we talk in such direct terms, they only see disobedience, and say that we are encouraging promiscuity. We need to talk to teenagers because they are already parents in many cases. They are the ones who decide to go through with cutting their daughters, or not. A lot of Mali is hard to reach though. We need travelling groups to go to those isolated rural areas and talk to people about sexual health. Pregnancy is the girl’s decision, and girls have a right to be healthy, and to choose their future.

Jumeya Mohammed Amin
story

| 28 July 2020

"I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality"

Seventeen-year-old student Jumeya Mohammed Amin started educating other people about sexual and reproductive health when she was 14 years old. She trained as a ‘change agent’ for her community through the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia’s south west office in Jimma, the capital of Oromia region. Amin comes from a small, conservative town about 20km outside the city. "I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality, because they [men in her community] start having sex with girls at a young age, even with girls as young as nine years old, because of a lack of education." "They suddenly had to act like grown-up women" "Before I started this training I saw the majority of students having sex early and getting pregnant because of a lack of information, and they would have to leave home and school. Boys would be disciplined and if they were seen doing things on campus, expelled. Girls younger than me at the time were married. The youngest was only nine. They would have to go back home and could not play anymore or go to school. They suddenly had to act like grown-up women, like old ladies. They never go back to school after marriage. My teacher chose me for this training and told me about the programme. I like the truth so I was not afraid. I heard about a lot of problems out there during my training and I told myself I had to be strong and go and fight this." "I have a brother and four sisters and I practiced my training on my family first. They were so shocked by what I was saying they were silent. Even on the second day, they said nothing. On the third day, I told them I was going to teach people in schools this, so I asked them why they had stayed silent. They told me that because of cultural and religious issues, people would not accept these ideas and stories, but they gave me permission to go and do it. Because of my efforts, people in my school have not started having sex early and the girls get free sanitary pads through the clubs so they no longer need to stay home during periods." Training hundreds of her peers "I know people in my community who have unplanned pregnancies consult traditional healers [for abortions] and take drugs and they suffer. I know one girl from 10th grade who was 15 years old and died from this in 2017. The healers sometimes use tree leaves in their concoctions.  We tell them where they can go and get different [safe abortion] services. The first round of trainings I did was with 400 students over four months and eight sessions in 2017. Last year, I trained 600 people and this year in the first trimester of school I trained 400. When students finish the course, they want to do it again, and when we forget we have a session, they come and remind me. At school, they call me a teacher. I’d like to be a doctor and this training has really made me want to do that more."

Jumeya Mohammed Amin
story

| 31 January 2023

"I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality"

Seventeen-year-old student Jumeya Mohammed Amin started educating other people about sexual and reproductive health when she was 14 years old. She trained as a ‘change agent’ for her community through the Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia’s south west office in Jimma, the capital of Oromia region. Amin comes from a small, conservative town about 20km outside the city. "I wanted to protect girls from violence – like early marriage – and I wanted to change people’s wrong perceptions about sex and sexuality, because they [men in her community] start having sex with girls at a young age, even with girls as young as nine years old, because of a lack of education." "They suddenly had to act like grown-up women" "Before I started this training I saw the majority of students having sex early and getting pregnant because of a lack of information, and they would have to leave home and school. Boys would be disciplined and if they were seen doing things on campus, expelled. Girls younger than me at the time were married. The youngest was only nine. They would have to go back home and could not play anymore or go to school. They suddenly had to act like grown-up women, like old ladies. They never go back to school after marriage. My teacher chose me for this training and told me about the programme. I like the truth so I was not afraid. I heard about a lot of problems out there during my training and I told myself I had to be strong and go and fight this." "I have a brother and four sisters and I practiced my training on my family first. They were so shocked by what I was saying they were silent. Even on the second day, they said nothing. On the third day, I told them I was going to teach people in schools this, so I asked them why they had stayed silent. They told me that because of cultural and religious issues, people would not accept these ideas and stories, but they gave me permission to go and do it. Because of my efforts, people in my school have not started having sex early and the girls get free sanitary pads through the clubs so they no longer need to stay home during periods." Training hundreds of her peers "I know people in my community who have unplanned pregnancies consult traditional healers [for abortions] and take drugs and they suffer. I know one girl from 10th grade who was 15 years old and died from this in 2017. The healers sometimes use tree leaves in their concoctions.  We tell them where they can go and get different [safe abortion] services. The first round of trainings I did was with 400 students over four months and eight sessions in 2017. Last year, I trained 600 people and this year in the first trimester of school I trained 400. When students finish the course, they want to do it again, and when we forget we have a session, they come and remind me. At school, they call me a teacher. I’d like to be a doctor and this training has really made me want to do that more."