The World Contraception Day Ambassadors project was an empowering and enriching experience for me. I have grown professionally and personally through sharing stories, uncovering truths, and listening to the realities that young people face in their communities when trying to access their sexual and reproductive health and rights, particularly contraceptive information and services.
The WCD Ambassadors project enhanced my knowledge of and skills in using technology to advocate for public health and human rights issues. The proposal writing process and project implementation phase helped me to develop effective advocacy and communication strategies.
During the implementation process of this project, I met with more than 100 young people from all over Georgia. During these discussions, it was made clear how important it is to create a safe and reliable environment for young people to talk about contraception. I also discovered that there is trepidation attached to openly talking about issues concerning sexual wellbeing and contraception. This fear is because of the perceived stigma attached to sexual health discussions and topics that are still taboo in our society. I learned that most of the young people think that adults act as gatekeepers to sexual health information for adolescents; there is a gap between what adults believe that adolescents need and what adolescents themselves believe they really need.
One of the biggest successes of this project was empowering young people to voice their needs and opinions about sexual health education and access to contraception. I am excited that the workshops encouraged participants to form A Youth Story and became advocates themselves, sharing new ideas about their rights to access contraception services with their peers.
The workshop equipped young people with the specific tools to creatively use digital communication platforms in order to raise awareness, encourage change, and have a greater impact. I learned that it is important to expand the knowledge and ability of young people to use technology and social media in SRHR advocacy and communication in Georgia.
This project exceeded my expectations when I launched and promoted the project website, A Story Map of Youth Voices. It serves as an interactive tool for young people to communicate about issues related to reproductive health, family planning, and contraception, with policymakers and other partners.
This process taught me how to design and develop effective digital storytelling content that can increase awareness and engagement in the field of youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, and that digital storytelling is a very powerful tool for advocacy.
Participating in the WCD Ambassadors Project also provided me with unique opportunities. I represented the WCD Ambassadors project at the international high-level conference “Achieving Gender Equality - Challenges and Opportunities in the European Neighborhood,” organized by the Government of Georgia in cooperation along with the EU and UN. I was also invited to speak on a panel regarding sexual wellbeing for people living with HIV/AIDS at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok.
The WCD Ambassadors Project was an incredible empowering experience, one that provided me with the ability to develop and tell powerful stories.
About World Contraception Day:
In support of World Contraception Day and Women Deliver’s Young Leaders Program, Women Deliver and Bayer will work in partnership on a three-year World Contraception Day (WCD) Ambassadors Project. The project equips young people with the skills they need to collect and share digital stories about young people’s SRHR and access to contraception in their home countries. The project includes a storytelling and digital media training, a seed grant, and advocacy opportunities for the Ambassadors to showcase their work at the international level.