Anna Kagesten

Anna Kagesten - 2016 Nominee
Position: PhD Candidate, Consultant
Organization: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Prior to PhD studies, Anna led youth SRH programs in Sweden and Africa. She has coordinated the Global Early Adolescent Study and has organized youth pre-conferences and engagement at ICFP2013/2016. – Robert Blum, William H. Gates Sr Professor at Johns Hopkins University
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I am a SRHR advocate and researcher with a strong passion towards improving family planning for, and together with, young people. Trained in epidemiology, I have spent the last decade designing and implementing of SRHR programs and studies focused on youth both globally and in my home country of Sweden. I have particular expertise in the measurement and meaning of adolescent sexual behaviors, contraceptive use and gender norms. My dissertation research aims at improving early prevention approaches by tapping data on sexual behaviors among very young adolescents (10-14 years) – a vastly neglected population in the family planning field. I have also had the privilege of leading the youth component of ICFP 2013 and 2016, including the coordination and training of over 300 youth delegates.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Sex! It never ceases to amaze me how something so central to human nature as is sex can be so taboo worldwide, and so linked to health, rights and economy. I am driven by the right of women and girls decide if, when, where and with whom to become pregnant. I view this right to be intrinsically linked with gender equality, and am inspired by efforts that challenge harmful gender stereotypes and myths that stand in the way to young women and men's right to the contraceptive method of their choice.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

Today, we have more knowledge than ever before about *what* works (and what does not) to improve SRHR, but less about *why*. The reality is that many programs describe their results without detailing what was actually done, how and under which conditions. I am currently working together with the WHO to develop new standards to guide the reporting of SRHR programs, with the goal to help implementers describe their implementation processes so that others can learn from their experiences.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

I see many challenges both in Sweden and elsewhere, but also more solutions and opportunities than ever before. In my global work, which focus mainly on sub-Saharan Africa, an ongoing challenge is the lack of high-quality SRHR data on young people, particularly concerning the very youngest adolescents. We need cost-effective, rapid systems that routinely tap data that we can use to backstop, promote and monitor adolescent family planning advocacy and programmatic efforts.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I want to graduate from my PhD program and use the skills that I have acquired to translate research into practice at an organization devoted to advancing adolescent SRHR. I want to produce high quality research that can help us understand and design effective family planning programs tailored to the unique needs and resources of the most marginalized groups. I never want to stop learning, and hope to use education as a tool to break through barriers related to sexuality, gender and human rights

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