How Copper Rose, a Youth-Led Family Planning Organization, Is Helping Zambia Meet Its FP2020 Commitment
Rudy Shaffer, Associate, Anglophone Africa, FP2020
Copper Rose is reaching some of the hardest to reach in Zambia: young girls and women who are vulnerable to teen pregnancy and early motherhood. For example, in Mazabuka, a remote region in the south of Zambia, teen pregnancy is on the rise, so meeting the family planning needs of the region’s young people is crucial. Too often, adolescent girls withdraw from school when they learn they’re pregnant, and feel forced to trade their notebooks for diapers and motherhood. Because Mazabuka is relatively remote, it’s difficult to travel to a health center to access health information and sex education, let alone acquire adequate screening and proper care — which could potentially require multiple trips.
As part of the country’s FP2020 commitment, the Zambian government is committed to addressing barriers that adversely impact access to sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people by offering a variety of contraceptive methods and family planning services. After Zambia revitalized its commitment at the London Family Planning Summit in 2017, Copper Rose launched a 12-month project with the support of an FP2020 Rapid Response Mechanism grant to support and track the government’s work.
Over the next year, Copper Rose fostered a close relationship with the Ministry of Health, and was entrusted to run the youth-friendly spaces at the health center in the country’s biggest market. The organization also created technical working groups, so they could generate community engagement and gain access to first-hand information on the state of family planning commodities in the country. Through this high-level engagement with technical working groups and the ministry, Copper Rose has connected with other organizations that have access to commodities to provide young people with practical family planning methods in every district throughout the country. For example, Copper Rose signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to distribute more than 50,000 condoms throughout the region, to increase commodity uptake by young people.
Copper Rose also developed a sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) toolkit for service providers: an advocacy tool used in training workshops for government officials and healthcare providers to communicate national policies and targets. As a result of this toolkit and subsequent trainings, Copper Rose uncovered a lack of support for adolescents living with disabilities in the Mazabuka district in particular — something the organization is now hoping to address with future projects. As a first step, the district health director has made a pledge to include disabilities in the 2019 district budget and work plan.
The Zambian government filed its FP2020 commitment in 2012 (and revitalized its commitment in 2017). Copper Rose recently decided to make its own FP2020 commitment as well, pledging to increase uptake in family planning services by adolescents and youth, strengthen the supply of commodities to youth-friendly health centers, and advance the reproductive rights of women and girls. Copper Rose is one of six youth-led organizations named as an official FP2020 commitment maker. See all the youth-led commitment makers on our website.