Dr. Hilda Mary Tadria, a member of the African Women Leaders’ Network for Family Planning and Reproductive Health participated in the meeting organised for the Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH) by Partners in Population and Development Africa Regional Office. The main topic of discussion was Reproductive Health and Family Planning in the Post 2015 Sustainable development framework. The meeting provided an important advocacy opportunity for AWLN members in face to face meetings with parliamentarians.
During the meeting, in group discussions we came up with three critical areas and actions to which the parliamentarians committed fully. One of the actions was to advocate for youth friendly corners in Health Centres to increase young people’s access to family Planning information and services.
“First, it was very clear that MP’s are very conversant with the status of the poor uptake of family Planning services and commodities. Secondly, they are very passionate about increasing FP uptake. However, it was very clear that they did not have consensus about the need to target the youth in order to address their needs for Family planning and the barriers to their access,” Dr. Tadria explained.
“Through strong representation of the need to target the youth in order to enhance uptake, there was an agreement to include it under policy initiatives,” Dr. Tadria concluded, “this created an urgent need to advocate for targeting the youth as a category of the population that does not access Family planning services.”
As a result, Dr. Tadria decided to organise a face to face advocacy meeting between the youth and Parliamentarians, which took place on 9 November. Five members of parliament and three medical professionals were in attendance. The dialogue was organized by the Mentoring and Empowerment Programme for Young Women (MEMPROW). It is a capacity building Programme for young women focusing on increasing their leadership capacity and social analytical skills founded by Dr. Tadria, who is also the Executive Director.
Throughout 2013, the dialogue engaged participants on issues concerning power and topics such as sexual reproductive health and rights. The five members of parliament and medical doctors had an excellent dialogue with the MEMPROW girls and boys. The scope of the dialogue ranged from access to family planning services and information and HIV/AIDS.
201 young women and 22young men participated in the discussion. The MEMPROW Girls’ Network was charged with communicating the key messages about challenges that young people face in accessing family planning services. They staged role plays and poems as a way of passing on messages to the members of parliament.
Among the recommendations suggested were the establishment and increase of youth friendly services in all major hospitals; and advocating for increased access to information and services for sexual and reproductive health.