Nairobi has been cold. The kind of cold that penetrates the hollows of your bones. You must understand that I just travelled from Dubai, where the heat has been unforgiving and relentless, on its mission to avenge a score that on my arrival I was not aware existed. I combined my vacation from my full time job with my World Contraception Day Project. I met with some friends in Nairobi and decided to interview them and engage them in a conversation about SRHR, contraception, and family planning. These conversations did little to warm my soul in the chilly Nairobi weather and the conversations I would have with a different set of young people in Mombasa would be even more chilling than the weather.
Going about my World Contraception Day Project has taught me several lessons thus far. I am learning many things that I did not know and getting to share my story and opinion with fellow young people. Three of the major issues I would like to highlight are as follows:
- The need for better ways to access contraception in Kenya’s rural areas is large and unmet. A friend of mine told me of her countryside (rural area) where there is only one dispensary that is kilometers away. The mode of transport is mostly by foot and one is never assured of getting the required services. The same story was repeated by a friend in my village, with many in Kitui suffering due the lack of SRH services. The contrast with the progress made in urban areas to ensure that these services are available to many is stark.
- While the Kenyan Constitution proclaims that health is a constitutional right for every citizen, this is only true on paper. Being able to choose when to have a child is of utmost importance to today’s youth. Ensure access to contraceptive choices is an obligation of local and national government, an obligation which must be fulfilled if improved standards of living, social, and economic development are goals for the country.
- Family planning and contraception are topics that a majority of people do not want to talk about directly. It’s always easier to talk about someone else or discuss a story we heard. It is, however, extremely difficult to just delve into a conversation about one’s own experiences and how involved one has been with contraception and sexual reproductive health activities. Parents need to engage their children and talk about SRHR because this conversation will happen somewhere else if they are not had at home. We cannot simply maintain silence on the topic. Through talking about someone else’s experience, it is simpler to ease into a conversation about ourselves and to share important information about contraceptives and SRH. I urge my readers to join the #AFriendOfMine Campaign to encourage more conversations about important SRHR issues. The main goal of the #AFriendOfMine campaign is to spread the word about contraception and sexual health – to help each new generation of adults make informed decisions so that every pregnancy in the world becomes a planned – and wanted - one.
I hope to keep learning from stories of young people because through their voices, I get a perspective that is raw and first hand. I also hope that young people in Kenya participate more, talk more, and raise their voices more about the sexual reproductive health and rights issues that affect them.
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.