With youth comprising nearly 30% of the world’s population, it is imperative that they should be given responsibilities in nation building, including family planning. Their roles today will shape their future as adults. If young people are to become responsible parents later on, then they should be proponents today of the proper methods for responsible parenthood.
The problem now lies in how to discover the best ways to engage young people so that they would participate with enthusiasm. The key to this dilemma is simple: give young people essential roles that would affirm that they are a significant part of society.
Organizers should recognize however, that “one size does not fit all.” Necessary adjustments should be made in each of the country’s youth sectors, so that their roles would fit into the existing national order. The following are simple but effective ways to motivate young people to participate in family planning.
Countries should provide youth access into the family planning programs. They should be given training in community diagnosis and programs’ implementation, then entrusted with the responsibility of conducting these programs in target communities. When these young people acquire experience and sufficient skills, they would be eager to spearhead more of their governments’ efforts in family planning.
Countries should include youth representatives to international family planning conventions and seminars as a way to engage them and provide them with the ability to participate in the formulation of national goals. They could start with the 2011 International Conference on Family Planning on November 29 to June 2, 2011 at Dakar, Senegal.
Governments should enlist youth representatives to consultations about issues concerning family planning. This would send a message across to the youth population that they are needed and respected. In addition, their novel ideas could breathe new life into these health programs.
Governments can also conduct a dialogue with the youth sector, where these young people can share their ideas, expertise and talents in the conceptualization of family planning programs. Most countries have recognized the crucial role of today’s youth, and have long been honoring them.
For example, in Ontario, seven outstanding youth volunteers were acknowledged, and in Fall River, they applauded Jessica Pereira as 2009’s Youth of the Year for her contribution to family planning.
The education sector could also nurture and promote feasible information campaigns and lectures initiated by youth volunteers all over that specific country, in congruence with applicable methods from the international community.
These are all interactive strategies to encourage young people to assume significant roles in family planning. The important thing to remember is that young people should be a part of the group that conducts the initial evaluation, actual conceptualization, goal setting, and implementation of family planning programs.
This way, they would genuinely feel that the program is their “own” program, and they would work hard to ensure its success.