By Tracy Ramsden | Marie Claire | 2 February 2017
America’s new President and a group of other privileged, white men have just signed a bill that will restrict the reproductive rights of women and girls all over the world.
Around $600 million of US money is currently spent on funding family planning and supports up to 27 million women worldwide. This is thanks to Barack Obama (and Bill Clinton before him) who scrapped Ronald Regan’s 1984 Mexico City Policy – known as the ‘Global Gag Rule’ – which banned funding to any nongovernmental organisation if they offer abortions, or even advise on them.
This funding – which is thought to have prevented 6 million unplanned pregnancies and stopped up to 2 million women and girls having unsafe abortions, thus saving the lives of at least 11,000 worldwide – has now been scrapped by Donald Trump in his first week in the White House. It’s not good news for women, clearly.
But thankfully a brave collective of women and girls are taking matters into their own hands at grassroots level, in communities all over the world. The Women Deliver Young Leaders are an amazing group of young people who are making change happen every day to protect women’s sexual and reproductive rights and to promote gender equality. The Young Leaders are doing incredible work in their local communities – from Africa to South America and everywhere in between – to make contraception more accessible and to educate young girls on their sexual health.
Kizanne James, in Trinidad and Tobago
Kizanne is developing a website and mobile app to help educate young people on the most effective forms of contraception and where to access them in the densely populated St Joseph District of Trinidad and Tobago. By debunking myths and sharing young people’s stories, Kizanne is showing the positive impact of contraception, creating healthier attitudes towards youth access to contraception, and advocating for greater government involvement in sexual and reproductive health policies and programs. She is also working on a documentary featuring six young people discussing their experiences with contraception across the region.
Nana Abuelsoud, in Egypt
Nana is exploring the inaccessibility of contraception at local pharmacies for young, married and unmarried women in Cairo, Egypt. Through in-depth interviews and focus groups with young people and pharmacists, Nana is collating data on how attitudes and barriers may dissuade young people from using contraception. Nana will use her findings to make recommendations to policymakers on how to make pharmacy services moe youth-friendly.
Makananelo Ramoholi, in Lesotho
Makanenlo is addressing the high rates of pregnancy at the National University of Lesotho, outside the capital city of Maseru. Despite having a clinic on campus, the services are not youth-friendly or accessible to students. By collecting stories about contraception access from female students, Makananelo is raising awareness of the barriers that these young women face when trying to access contraceptive information and services on campus and advocating for a stronger comprehensive sexuality education program at the university.