Youth Rise to the Occassion at the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning

Last week, family planning advocates showed the world just how committed they are to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The 2016 International Conference on Family Planning was originally scheduled for November 2015, but a volcanic eruption on the neighboring island of Lombok forced organizers to postpone the event.

Despite the last-minute cancelation of many travel plans, thousands of researchers, program implementation experts, policymakers, youth leaders, media, and representatives of local and international organizations made their way to Indonesia for the rescheduled event.

The theme of this year’s conference – the fourth since 2009 – was “Global Commitments, Local Actions.” While panels did address family planning in relation to the new-minted Sustainable Development Goals, and new family planning tools and programs were introduced, what seemed to take the conference by storm was the strong presence of youth and how this generation is leading the way on sexual health and reproductive rights advocacy.

If you scroll through the ICFP’s Twitter handle or look at the daily round-ups you will see that the word “youth” pops up everywhere. What this shows us is that the family planning movement is doing a stellar job at staying relevant. More than half of the world’s population is under the age of 25, so when it comes to developing sustainable and inclusive programs and projects, youth must be a strong focus. Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.48.38 AM

“We don’t want to be called future leaders. We are leading right now”.

Here are a few of our favorite youth-centric projects and stories from ICFP:

Meet 6 Young People Who Are Determined to Shift Family Planning Policies: 6 of the more than 300 youth participants at ICFP tell us in their words why they care about increasing access and education about family planning for youth.

Combating Teen Myths About Sex with Family Planning: Health specialist Jane Otai reports that when she held a workshop about family planning, young girls said they knew how to avoid pregnancy—however, their methods didn’t involve contraception but rather “taking a hot bath or “having sex standing up.” This article describes ways parents can educate their kids about family planning and break the myths that may lead to unintended pregnancy.

120 under 40: The Next Generation of Family Planning Leaders: 120 under 40 is the first project of its kind to celebrate young champions of family planning. This month, 120 under 40 launched a campaign that invites anyone to nominate a person 40 years or younger who has made significant contributions to global family planning. Anyone can submit a nomination.