Youth Engagement in UCOZ, Benin, Inspires Young Leaders of Sexual and Reproductive Health
By Josephat Avoce and Kathryn Walsh
There is not a more vibrant group of young people than in UCOZ, Benin, where TCI has built and mentored a team of young leaders, deemed the Jeunes Leaders Transformationnels (JLT or Young Transformational Leaders). JLT works closely with the UCOZ government and health sector leaders to garner their commitment and support for initiatives that make contraceptives more affordable for and accessible to young people.
JLT participates in decision-making processes for adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) in UCOZ. They also participate in program management duties, such as activity planning; co-signing (with adults) documentation for the release of funds; and implementing and monitoring of activities. JLT also organizes peer discussions with adolescents and youth in their communities, often utilizing an app titled “Ma Vie, Mon Choix” to engage in discussions about their contraceptive options and where they can seek counseling. They also engage with young people through their mobile phones and social media (JLT’s Facebook group can be accessed here).
Across TCI-supported cities, young men and women are often at different stages in their lives – living at home with their parents while attending school, starting a job with no desire for children yet, or learning how to be a parent to their first child. They have different goals for their future and desires for their families. Consequently, they have diverse contraceptive needs. Partnering with young people to identify the gaps in their access to quality contraceptive services is critical if TCI is to reach them with the information they need. TCI in UCOZ, Benin, places youth at the heart of its strategy.
Rosette Hounsikpe decided to become a JLT member so she could educate other young girls and boys like herself about contraceptives in an effort to help them avoid unplanned pregnancies. Please watch her inspiring story below: