25 percent of the world’s population is between the age of 15 and 24[i]. As we approach the 2015 target for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and look to the future, addressing the needs of youth globally is paramount, as these youth will be the future service providers, program managers, and policy makers who will shape the goals and priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.
One of the main objectives of the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT is to ensure that contraceptives get into the hands of users when and where they need them—often referred to as contraceptive security (CS). A central approach to CS is collecting and monitoring data for decision making, including the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, CS indicator data (generated by an annual survey of 40 countries), and essential logistics data on the availability of contraceptives routinely collected throughout both public- and private-sector channels.
Youth can play a critical role in the CS movement. By involving, engaging and serving youth and other CS champions, they can collaborate with local organizations to remove critical barriers that limit people’s access to contraceptives. In the Latin America and Caribbean region (LAC), youth are learning about, using, and presenting data to decision makers to contribute to broader efforts to achieve CS. For example, the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT held a series of workshops in which youth from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Peru and Paraguay met to discuss CS. As part of the workshop activities, these youth also met with representatives from Ministries of Health and non-governmental organizations. Together they learned about data analysis and advocacy techniques to illustrate the impact of high pregnancy rates and unmet need for family planning, along with key policy and operational barriers that many youth continue to face in their countries. Through this series of events, these young champions learned how to use evidence to craft data-driven advocacy statements and action plans to encourage their governments to expand access to contraceptives for young people like themselves.
Young leaders have already realized several successes:
- In 2012, after returning from a regional workshop, youth participants created a Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la DAIA Facebook page to share ideas and activities.
- In 2014 in Guatemala, youth leaders are monitoring and ensuring that the newly-approved guide, Strengthening Youth-friendly Sites, includes a chapter on how and when to dispense contraceptives to youth and the logistics processes that need to be in place to monitor contraceptive availability.
- In 2014, in Nicaragua, two youth leaders actively participated in an assessment of ProFamilia youth friendly sites to monitor access of contraceptives and reproductive health services for youth.
By empowering adolescents and young adults, The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT is helping countries in the LAC region stay on track with their contraceptive security goals. This next generation of CS champions will join other youth advocates in their home countries to work with the government to help meet the contraceptive needs of their youth population. The USAID | DELIVER PROJECT’s LAC office will continue to provide support to these CS champions and hopes to see more success as their efforts get underway.