My work (through advocacy) in family planning involves:
* Community Resource Person - Last year I spent 6 months volunteering at a local health centre. As a result, I was able to interact with and empower teenage mothers attending the clinic to return to school after giving birth, also to educate them on what to expect during pregnancy, and most importantly how to prevent second pregnancies.
*Peer Educator with the Ministry of Public Heath - I attend multiple outreaches and health fairs where I am able to educate young people on their SHRH, family planning, preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs.
*Women Across Differences (WAD)- At this NGO which seeks to reintegrate teenage mothers into the school system, I currently facilitate sessions on family planning with teen mothers.
Every year, half a million women die from complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and unsafe abortions. Sadly, most of these deaths could be prevented by family planning. It was against this backdrop and my love for the promotion of the health and rights of women and girls that birthed my interest in family planning. I believe that If I am to empower girls and women to reach our true potential and to take up leadership roles in society I must educate them on having control of their reproduction.
My biggest challenge has been my moral convictions. These convictions are rooted in my faith based teachings that fornication is a sin. There have been moments where I felt that by educating youth about family planning, I would be condoning "illicit" sex. However, and through my work in family planning I have come to realise that this is not so. In fact, I have learnt that the promotion of family planning empowers young people to make informed choices and as a result society benefits on a whole.
In Guyana family planning services are available but young people shy away from accessing these services because they feel ashamed and stigmatised by society. As a result, more youth friendly services are needed to create an environment wherein young people can make informed decisions about family planning. To achieve this, health care providers must become more accommodating and less judgmental when a young couple or young woman comes to the clinic or hospital seeking advice on family planning.
At present Guyana has the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the western hemisphere with 97 out of every 1000 teenage girls becoming pregnant. By 2021, Guyana must be a country where teenage pregnancy has decreased significantly, comprehensive sexual education is part of the school system, pregnancies are planned, and childbirth is safe. I want to contribute to these changes, through advocacy on family planning, through my career as a medical doctor, and by empowering girls and women.