The reproductive health needs of adolescents and youth in Georgia are largely unmet (1). At present, no state-supported sex education programs exist, no information targeted specifically at young people is available, and health service providers are not equipped with the skills to meet young people’s needs for information, counselling, and confidentiality of services. Strong religious and conservative powers, gender inequality, and fragile civil society all influence the lives of adolescents and young people (2). Young people are not sufficiently engaged and involved at all levels; youth voices are rarely heard at decision-making tables.
There are several issues at play regarding the status of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Georgia. There is a lack of comprehensive sexuality education in and out of school as well as inadequate access to family planning information and services, particularly youth-friendly information and services. Furthermore, there is a general lack of awareness and priority of young people’s SRHR issues.
Youth-led projects are central to development; they bring innovative and feasible action for development by and for youth. The World Contraception Day (WCD) Ambassadors Project is an excellent example of supporting youth led-projects. It supports and enables young people from different regions and backgrounds as global citizens and social actors. WCD Ambassadors have the opportunity to engage in and lead the initiatives they believe are the most important in their countries and communities.
I was inspired and intrigued by the opportunity to be a WCD Ambassador. It has been a challenging, but exciting process to develop a project that will tell the stories of young people in my country. It was an encouraging and motivating opportunity; I thought I could do so much!
The name of my digital storytelling project is Youth Story Map. I will collect and share digital stories about young people’s SRHR and access to contraception in Georgia. The project will tell the story of adolescents and young people’s experiences with contraception, family planning, and reproductive health using photography and video stories to raise youth voices.
The Youth Story Map project will partner with four youth organizations to conduct workshops and fieldwork at the regional level. I will collect, compile, and share 15 visual and audio stories from young people, in both Georgian and English. Materials will be uploaded to the project website where everyone will be able to engage and tell their own stories. The project will produce advocacy messages, integrated with videos and photos animated on the map and displayed on the website. The final stage of the project will be a week-long photo exhibition at the Human Rights Secretariat and Ministry of Youth and Sports. I believe that this project will raise youth voices and shine a light on youth needs and perspectives about sexual and reproductive health at the national and international level.
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.
(1) Gap Analysis of Family Planning Services in Georgia, Final Report. Gotsadze T, 2013.
(2) ASTRA Youth Secretariat, Federation for Women and Family Planning.