UNPACKING YOUTH VOICES
“Information on family planning is power!”….18-year old Destiny
Family Planning is a Human Right!
It’s a cloudy day in most parts of the Niger Delta. The rains have been pouring for the past few days now. We don’t expect it to be any different today. On other fronts, today is a very different and special day- Today is World Population Day 2018.
The world population day, celebrated every 11th day of July, is a United Nations Initiative to raise the awareness of increasing population day to day. In 1989, the governing council of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recommended that 11th July should be observed as World Population Day.
The theme for 2018 is “Family Planning is a Human Right”. This theme for the first time stresses that women can refuse to have multiple pregnancies placed too close if they want. It gives a response to the 50-year-old legislation which also states the same.
Prior to this time, family planning was seen as being exclusive to married couples. It has never been accepted that unmarried adolescents can use family planning especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria precisely. Well now, with accurate information and judgement-free sexual and reproductive health services, young people can now decide for themselves if, when and how many children to give birth to (can delay unintended or unwanted pregnancy while in school or up for decent employment).
So KNIT TOGETHER team were right in the field getting reactions from respondents who are young people within the ages of 18 to 35 in the marketplaces, campuses, motor parks and on the streets across the Niger Delta about their thoughts on family planning as a veritable tool for the development of the society.
“ Family planning gives protection!” was the view of Innocent O., a student leader. He continues, ‘Family planning is basically about protecting one from unintended pregnancy. Information on family planning, as well as access and proper use, is key. I am a father of a wonderful daughter; a child I was not prepared for but it just happened.’
Chukwuebuka N., a trader, says family planning alleviates suffering. He is of the opinion that family planning helps to alleviate the plight of young people who are not ready to start having children yet.
Things to keep in mind
- Access to voluntary family planning enables women to space their births, benefiting both mothers’ and children’s health.
- Family planning reduces the risk of death and disability from pregnancy and childbirth too early or too late in a woman’s reproductive life.
- The right to family planning permits the enjoyment of other rights, including the rights to health, education, and the achievement of a life with dignity.
- Ensuring universal access to reproductive health services, including family planning, can ultimately speed-up a country’s progress towards reducing poverty and achieving global development goals.
- Women who choose Family Planning are healthier and face lower risk of maternal death.
- “For girls and women to reach their full potential and be more economically productive, they must be able to exercise their right to decide for themselves whether, when and how often to have children” – Late Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin
- Children born to women who space their pregnancies tend to be healthier and face reduced risk of death in their first five years.
18-year old Destiny F. blew our minds with the composure she showed during the interview. “Information on family planning is power! The young shall grow’. Boys and girls today will become fathers and mothers tomorrow. They need accurate and age-appropriate information now in order to plan their future.”
“It helps secure your future by giving you opportunities to maximize your potential” says Onwuka from Delta State. “In an ailing economy such as ours, It will be almost irresponsible to have a hundred or two hundred children (laughs)”. Charles E., a theatre artist had this to say; “Looking at the situation of the Nigerian economy, it is not advisable to have more children than your income can carry. I strongly believe young people should be enlightened on the benefits of family planning so that when they get into the larger society, they will be better placed to make informed decisions with their partners.
“A guy can walk into a drug store, head held high, and request for any contraceptive product, and he is well attended to, but as a girl, it is definitely not the same. You are greeted with demeaning looks and unsolicited questions. This should not be the case.” said a very passionate and vocal Peace E., a student activist.
Finally, we leave you with the thought-provoking words of Kelvin S.
“I think the nation will be better served if our political leaders can invest about the same amount of resources as they do during political campaigns in family planning programming and services for adolescents and young people. If this is done, Nigeria as a nation will become a great and prosperous nation.”