Côte d’Ivoire is facing challenges in terms of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning (FP) and contraception. According to the health and demography survey (EDS-MICS 2011-2012), the HIV prevalence rate was estimated at 3.7% in Côte d’Ivoire, one of the first countries affected by the virus in West Africa. Young girls have a higher prevalence rate than young boys, with a rate of 1.3% versus 0.3%.

A survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INS 2009) noted that 52.2% of young people in Côte d’Ivoire are sexually active before the age of 16, and 19% of females have given birth to at least one child before the same age. These statistics mean there are high rates of adolescent fertility, maternal mortality, and HIV prevalence in the country. In addition, 27% of women aged 15 to 49 have an unmet need for contraception, according to the National Family Planning Action Plan. According to the Ministry of Education, during the academic year 2013-2014, more than 5,000 pregnancies were registered in Côte d’Ivoire with more than 3,939 of them registered in secondary schools

One of the key reasons behind these numbers is young people’s inability to access contraceptive commodities and services due to stigmatization, discrimination, and a lack of educational and financial resources. To deal with these challenges, young people must be part of all decision-making processes as well as program development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. Sixty-five percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 35 – this provides a unique opportunity for development. Young people are the present and the future of our world, and the age group that is most affected by decisions and programs. They have to advocate for the fulfillment of their rights to education, employment, and health commodities and services.

As part of World Contraception Day Ambassadors Project, I will raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health, including access to contraception commodities and services, among young people in Côte d’Ivoire. My project, “Ivorian Youth Voices on Contraception” (IYVC), will consist of collecting videos, photos, and messages about sexual and reproductive health and contraception from August to October of 2015 in Côte d’Ivoire.  I will use these materials to create films and catalogues that will be shared on the project website. In addition, an online survey will collect data on young people’s opinions about and access to contraception in my country. Young people will also gain knowledge and skills during a workshop that will help them make more informed decisions about their lives and futures.  

Through this project, I hope that young people will join me to make their voices heard at the national and international levels.

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.