Many youth in Malawi are told that contraceptives are only for married adults. Yet so many of Malawi’s young people have expressed an unmet need. There are also unique experiences, preferences and challenges that adolescent girls and boys face in understanding, accessing and using contraceptives in Malawi. VillageReach worked with young researchers to tap into real insights that advance the development of sexual and reproductive health services and products tailored specifically for young people.
I’m at Women Deliver this week to share their insights and a future where youth are co-creators in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) products and services. You can download the poster I presented here. We recommend several actions to ensure their voices are heard:
- SRHR programs must contribute to girls’ and young women’s self-determination and power to determine their future.
- Increase availability of contraceptives at service delivery points nearer girls and use non-traditional distribution points such as local shops.
- Engage community leaders and health workers in sensitizing community to the value of contraceptives in improving the health and quality of life for girls and young women.
- Increase service delivery training for health workers, employ young men and women to provide services and increase anonymity in provision of contraceptives at service delivery points.
- Involve adolescents in the development of contraceptive options.
The Malawi research was aptly named Izizi, meaning ‘this is ours’ in Chichewa. This mandate of nothing for us without us echoes the call of youth who have joined Women Deliver from all around the world. We will continue to listen to and amplify the voices of young people who deserve sexual and reproductive health products and services match their needs and preferences. This is the power of youth voices. This is the power of change.