YOUAccess supports youth-led organizations to advocate for increased funding and improved policies on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in low- and middle-income countries.
At PAI, we believe youth-led organizations are integral to improving policy and funding for the most pressing sexual and reproductive health and rights issues facing young people. Our signature youth-focused project, YOUAccess, provides technical and financial support to these advocates in addition to opportunities for youth-driven, innovative project development, knowledge sharing and organizational capacity strengthening. YOUAccess demonstrates that investing in youth-led organizations results in positive change that elevates the next generation of sexual and reproductive health and rights leaders.
Since 2017, PAI has awarded more than $575,000 to 13 adolescent- and youth-led organizations to promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.
PAI is committed to universal sexual and reproductive health information, services and supplies for adolescents and youth. To improve their health outcomes, we prioritize the meaningful engagement of young people and youth-led organizations as leaders in policy and funding decisions focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
While adolescents make up one-sixth of the global population — the largest generation of young people in history — their sexual and reproductive health care is often overlooked. Youth-led organizations are unique in their ability to elevate the needs of young people to influence policy development and implementation. Because they are speaking from first-hand experience, these advocates are motivated to prioritize adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights in policy and budget discussions and can effectively make the case to policymakers.
However, youth participation in policy development has historically been tokenized. Youth-led organizations are regularly asked to contribute their expertise in these discussions without receiving formal support. Few organizations, including established civil society organizations as well as nascent youth-led organizations, can afford to volunteer their time, knowledge and skills on a consistent basis. These dynamics place an unnecessary, magnified burden on youth-led organizations, which have less financial and human resources.
PAI believes that encouraging youth engagement must coincide with providing young advocates the financial and technical support necessary to execute their work. This approach is illustrated by our partnership with WPC, a youth-led organization in Kenya. In 2018, WPC recognized an opportunity to improve adolescent- and youth-friendly health services through the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy. PAI and WPC collaborated to create and implement an advocacy strategy built on WPC’s connections and understanding of the local context. With technical advocacy support and funding from PAI, WPC successfully achieved a commitment from policymakers to fast-track youth-friendly health centers in Kibera, Nairobi.
The determination, energy and leadership of youth-led organizations like WPC in sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy is critical to greater quality of health care delivery. When adolescents and youth have a meaningful role in developing policies that are more reflective of their health needs, there are positive impacts on the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of young people and their communities.
Achieving gender equality requires eliminating all barriers that prevent young women from accessing or using the sexual and reproductive health information and services that enable their full and equal participation in education, employment and decision-making processes.Christine Sudi, program coordinator, WPC