Dr. Priya Limbu
With nearly 1.2 billion people - the second largest population in the world - India, is also home to around 230 million youth which only implicates the need to educate and empower them on sexual and reproductive health(SRH) . Unfortunately,discussion on SRH is avoided at most community level gathering in India . Through a community-level adolescent SRH awareness campaign held in one of the high priority district in Bihar , India ; close to 20,000 community members including adolescents were provided with information related to SRH and in this process , SRH champions were identified . Nevertheless, facilitating a pre –youth conference event at the ICFP 2016 presented an opportunity to introduce an exercise/tool to make learners (adolescents) into future SRH leaders .
Youth and women's are usually deprived of their rights to choose the right family planning methods ,more so in cases of young unmarried girls . During a visit to a remote health facility in India, I observed how badly a young pregnant girl was treated wherein her rights and dignity was the least area of concern for anyone present at the facility . Since then, youth and women's right ,equality and dignity - ' RED ' as I would like to call it has always been my key area of interest .
Information , Education and communication materials distributed to adolescents paid least emphasis on family planning , safe abortions and GBV . The only SRH information widely available were on AIDS and STI. Relentless advocacy pitched in by the team to the state health off lead to inclusion of these topics on the IEC material designed for 15-19 year old adolescents. These IEC material were distributed to all the health facilities in Katihar, Bihar and also distributed at the campaign .
The deep-rooted patriarchal society which exist in India , not only impose as a huge barrier , it also degrades the quality of family planning . Not only is male involvement close to negligible among adults but also among young boys. Early school based intervention is a strong link which can bridge this barrier . Along with this, a strong convergence of all stakeholders working with youth , children ,men and women - most importantly religious leaders - is indispensable .
I envision to empower more youth especially girls to take control of their reproductive rights as rightfully said so , investing time and efforts on youth brings forth a healthy and financially strong nation . I would continue my work on addressing the stigma , breaking the myths and taboos latched to sexual and reproductive Health amongst service providers and the community .