Strengthening Youth Champion Networks For Family Planning Budget Advocacy

When I was fifteen years old in Senior Three, a close friend of mine in my class was impregnated by a boy. She had to drop out of school when it was found out, but her boyfriend got to stay.

A4HU partnered with the district local governments of Mukono, Kamuli, Tororo and Mityana districts to profile and train 40 young people between 15 and 21 years old in advocacy for family planning budgetary prioritization. The training was aimed at creating a sub national youth network of confident, knowledgeable youth champions who can hold district and national governments to account for their role in ensuring adequate funding for quality Family Planning (FP) service delivery.

Rhoda Namwano, one of the 40 trainees narrated her journey to becoming a youth champion in Mukono district.

What inspired you to become a youth champion for Increased FP Funding?

When I was fifteen years old in Senior Three, a close friend of mine in my class was impregnated by a boy. She had to drop out of school when it was found out, but her boyfriend got to stay. I felt so bad that her education had been interrupted and I felt that it was wrong for a girl to be so vulnerable. That’s when I decided that I would do anything in my power to protect our generation, although at the time I couldn’t do much.

Were you always interested in advocacy? What did you know about it?

Shortly after the incident I mentioned to you, I talked to my other girlfriends in class about the importance of abstaining so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to us. I guess I have always wanted to promote good behavior among my fellow young people and action by those in authority to support this, but I didn’t know about advocacy. I only learnt about it when I was invited to a youth champion training by A4HU.

Why do you think that it is important to advocate for increased domestic funding for family planning?

Youth are out there having unprotected sex and I think it is important for the government to make it easy for them to be able access things like condoms that can enable them to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Right now most people my age don’t know the need for such things and can’t even afford them but that doesn’t stop them for engaging in sex. So it would be better to make sure that contraceptives are available to them.

How did you learn about the opportunity to become a youth champion?

My friend told me that she had been selected to be trained as a youth champion. I was curious, so I asked around and when I learnt that this could be a way for me to learn how to advocate for the needs of young people, I got interested and I talked to our district representative.

How did it feel when you were selected?

I wasn’t sure that I would be picked because I really didn’t know about advocacy, so I was very happy when I was selected

How was the training?

The first day was very scary. New people, new topics, new place and I was very shy. I was asked to talk about something and I could not even speak. I honestly didn’t understand much, but the trainers were nice and they made sure that almost all the sessions were active. I didn’t like it in the beginning, but the role plays and discussions made me understand better and become confident.

What was your favorite session?

(Chuckles) The role plays because they were like revision of the day and whatever I had forgotten would come back just be someone acting a role.

Do you feel like you are able to go to the district and advocate for young people now?

I have more knowledge and information about FP budget advocacy but of course I need more time, more training and experience in order to be able to talk to ‘big people’. I can talk to young people confidently, I just need to get the courage to speak in meetings now.

What is your vision for young people’s reproductive health?

I want to see increased knowledge about family planning among young people and I want the government to respect the needs and requirements of young people in terms of their sexual reproductive health

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