Empowering Youth Advocates for Family Planning in Francophone West Africa

As part of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has been supporting the Young Ambassadors for family planning from the nine member states of the Ouagadougou Partnership (OP). Launched in 2011, the OP focuses on meeting unmet family planning needs in its nine member states in francophone West Africa, which have collectively pledged to add 2.2 million more family planning users between 2015 and 2020.

Engaging youth is a key element in achieving the OP’s goals because the majority of women in the OP countries become sexually active before they reach the age of 20. The Young Ambassadors (YAs) are a dynamic, highly motivated group who speak and advocate for family planning on behalf of their peers from a first-hand perspective. PRB produced the animated video above to support the YAs; it debuted Dec. 13, 2016 during the opening plenary session of the OP annual meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, that gathered more than 300 officials from the region, major donors, and family planning experts.


The Ouagadougou Partnership Young Ambassadors

The video was presented at the plenary session by the YAs, who made impassioned pleas to the assembled officials from their countries to make family planning accessible and affordable for young people. Indeed the theme of the annual meeting was putting youth at the center of OP strategies to expand use of family planning.

Fatimata Sy, director of the OP Coordination Unit, told the plenary session audience that the nine countries had collectively added 374,000 family planning users among women in 2016, but the group will still miss its growth target for 2020 by 274,000 new users if the current growth trend continues. She said it is essential to focus more on the needs of youth in order to meet the target.


The OP Young Ambassadors present the video produced with PRB.


PRB’s collaboration with the YAs began with a cocreation workshop in Dakar in September 2016 to understand the YAs’ policy advocacy environment, challenges, priorities, and needs. They agreed that PRB could support their advocacy by producing this short explanatory video, as well as a multimedia presentation that goes into more detail about barriers in youth access to contraception, the tangible benefits of overcoming those barriers, and youth-focused recommendations for action.

PRB held a training session with the YAs during the OP annual meeting to launch the multimedia presentation and work with the YAs on how to present it in their countries, as well as ways to adapt it to particular country advocacy priorities. PRB plans to adapt the presentation with selected YAs in 2017.

The project with the Gates Foundation, “Bridging High Impact Family Planning Communications and Advocacy,” includes two components: