‘My Choice My Future’ Digital Campaign Raises Awareness of AYSRH among Youth in Francophone West Africa
Contributors: Josephat Avoce, Annette McFarland and Fatimata Sow
I choose family planning for my future”
So goes the motto of the “My Choice My Future” campaign recently supported by The Challenge Initiative (TCI) in Francophone West Africa. The digital media campaign promoted open communication about adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) among young people aged 15 to 24 in six cities (UCOZ, Cotonou, Abidjan, Ziguinchor, Niamey and Ouagadougou). TCI technical advisors worked with youth who had been trained as Young Transformational Leaders and youth-friendly health care providers to create WhatsApp and Facebook groups for local youth in each city.
For five weeks, youth-friendly service providers presented information in the WhatsApp groups about a different AYSRH topic each week. At least one youth-friendly service provider was part of each group to present the facts, bust myths and address young people’s concerns. The Young Transformational Leaders co-led discussions with the youth, covering knowledge of one’s own body, life skills (e.g., interpersonal problem-solving and communication), the benefits of family planning for young people, available modern methods of contraception, and where and how to access sexual and reproductive health services tailored to their specific needs.
Although the “My Choice My Future” campaign primarily focused on engaging with youth in digital spaces, it also included an in-person component. Young Transformational Leaders conducted weekly in‑person sessions with 4,456 young people, discussing AYSRH topics, recruiting young people to join the social media groups and providing referrals for health services to 1,416 young people – 1 in 4 of whom sought health services within the following month.
Overall, 522 young people participated in six WhatsApp groups, exchanging over 500 messages daily in each group for the duration of the campaign. And 22,211 young people engaged in Facebook groups. These groups continue to this day, a few months after the conclusion of the campaign, and youth engagement with AYSRH topics is ongoing. This was TCI’s first mass media campaign targeting youth in Francophone West Africa, and plans are already in the works to make “My Choice My Future” a recurring campaign in future.
An 18-year-old young woman who participated said:
Being able to better know one’s body down to details, being able ask to questions on pregnancy prevention and [learning about] options of contraception has been the best thing this campaign has offered.’’
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