In the United States, there are nearly seven million pregnancies each year, about half of which are unintended (Guttmacher Institute). Some of the reasons behind these numbers are failure to use the contraceptive method of choice consistently, lack of access to services that provide free or affordable contraceptives, knowledge gaps regarding which contraceptive methods are available, and the inability to choose which one may be best for an individual’s lifestyle. The top three methods used by women in the U.S. are the birth control pill (estrogen and progestin; 27.5%), tubal ligation (female sterilization; 26.6%), and male condoms (16.3%). However, there is are many women who are not using any birth control method at all – even if they want to be.
Youth-led projects are important if this is going to change. The youth population in America is extremely diverse, both in age groups and educational levels. Youth leaders from various backgrounds are able to relate to their peers better than those who are of a different generation. Youth-led projects have the power to engage young people and educate them on conceptive methods and how to access them.
I have had two internships that allowed me to work within women’s health, focusing mainly on family planning and maternal and child health on both a domestic and international level. Through these experiences, I saw the desperate need for such services. In the United States, we have been lagging behind in terms of reducing unintended pregnancies when compared to other developed nations. This may be due to the fact that other countries have universal healthcare and the cost of obtaining family planning services are minimal or free to the people who need them. The United States, even as a leader in medical education and advancement, is still not providing high quality of care for an affordable price.
My World Contraception Day Ambassadors Project will help address this issue by sharing the voices of millennials in the United States and raising awareness about the variety of contraceptive options available to them. Some of the activities will include collaborating with the target university's student health centers, Women Deliver, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy to gather data on current SRHR issues affecting undergraduate students. I will then create a photo-story that will capture the experiences of undergraduate students, in order to contextualize the data I gathered and share personal stories about accessing contraception as a young people in the United States.
Additionally, during the week of World Contraception Day, there will be a booth at the student centers at New York University and Rutgers University to raise awareness of the World Contraception Day Ambassadors Project. The photo-story will be screened at the booth and students will be encouraged to participate in a brief survey that will help assess their knowledge of contraception options and usage. I will take Instagram videos of students who wish to share their thoughts and opinions about the importance of young people knowing about contraceptive options and having affordable access to contraception.
I am excited to be a part of this project and to share what I learn in an effort to achieve the goal of World Contraception Day, to have “a world where all pregnancies are wanted.”
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.