The theme of Nigeria’s fourth annual Family Planning Conference, held in November, 2016, was “Family Planning in Nigeria: The Journey So Far.” Jennifer Amadi, Advocacy Advisor for the African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), attended and offered her perspective as a young person looking to Nigeria’s future, while also considering the successes and challenges of the past.
Jennifer spoke with FP2020 as part of our ongoing series profiling young leaders taking action on family planning, and working to advance SRHR in their communities.
Why sexual and reproductive health and rights — especially family planning? Why do these issues matter?
I feel concerned about the young children who are denied basic life provisions like shelter, food, health care and education — especially when they are born to an adolescent, who doesn’t know how to help them.
I have always felt that my lot in life would have been better if I had been born into a smaller family. Family planning is a solution to many of the world’s challenges. It gives one the opportunity to improve, invest in oneself either through formal or informal education. I work on family planning because I want make the world a better place for all and because I understand the sacredness of life.
What actions have you and young people taken to promote family planning in your community? Can you share an example?
Recently, I came in contact with a young girl in her 20s who had two children and was pregnant with a third child. For the first time in my life I saw a mother who resented her children, like they were some kind of burden. The physical abuse those kids were going through was heartbreaking. My colleague almost lashed out at the mother because of the away she was treating those innocent kids who hadn’t even had food that day. When that young girl heard about the beauty of family planning, she wished she’d known that information earlier.
An adage in Africa says, “charity begins at home.” So I have made accurate information on family planning the second good news that I share with everyone in my sphere of contact. I use social media and social hang-out events to share information on contraception and proper use. And I organize focused group discussions to reach people who may not have access to social media.
Why use social media to spread the word about family planning?
With social media I have been able to reach lot of women and girls between ages 15 and 35. But social media alone is not the only way to reach young people with information on family planning. As great as social media is, I think it makes the most difference when used together with other approaches, like one-on-one outreach. Internet data is a luxury that many young women do not have yet, especially those in rural villages. So I think one challenge of using social media is that it does not bring information to end users that are illiterate, or live in low resource areas.
Following Nigeria’s recent National Family Planning Conference, what makes you hopeful for the future?
I was inspired by the passion young people demonstrated at the pre-conference. Their commitment to taking knowledge and skills acquired at the conference to their communities was my highlight. That means more young people are getting information on contraception.
Any final thoughts?
If FP2020 and development partners wants the work to be done, they should engage youth. Make them responsible, make them a solution-bearer for their own needs.