Dakshitha Wickremarathne

Dakshitha Wickremarathne - 2016 Nominee
Position: Lancet Commissioner / WomenDeliver Young Leader
Organization: Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka
Dakshitha has trained young people across Asia Pacific on family planning & sexual rights with YPEER. He served as the SRHR adviser for UN Youth Advisory Panel Sri Lanka. – Lasantha Gunarathne, Deputy Executive Director at Family Planning Association Sri Lanka
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

As a Master Trainer on SRHR with YPEER, UNFPA and IPPF I have built capacities of more than 2000 young people across the Asia Pacific region enabling them access to accurate information and services. I have developed technical manuals, modules and glossaries to ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of youth, specially of young key populations and youth with disabilities, are recognized and realized by using innovative tools such as softwares and sign language. As a member of the Lancet Commission on adolescent Health, we published a ground breaking global report highlighting the SRHR needs of adolescents. I contributed as a youth technical advisor to the National Strategy on young people's health of Sri Lanka and served as the SRHR advisor to UN Youth Advisory Panel Sri Lanka.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

During my Bachelors on Social work, through research and field work, I realized how young people have been denied of their rights to receive information & services. Youth (specially young women) were not given equal & fair opportunities to influence decisions regarding their lives, rights & development. Access to family planning was further restricted, socially and culturally, as it was considered as taboo. This realization was the spark which made me an activist and an advocate for youth SRHR.

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

Needs of certain populations are different and difficult to be addressed using general family planning services. Identifying these communities & their special needs have been a major challenge in policy and programming. I was able to work closely with hearing impaired community in Sri Lanka whose access to information and services have been restricted due to not having a SRHR inclusive sign language. Production & dissemination of a Sign Language glossary on SRHR was a step taken to address it.

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

Most policies and laws in Sri Lanka contain progressive language and recommendations on fulfilling SRHR of the citizens. The challenge so far has been the ineffectiveness in implementing them due to cultural barriers and political agendas. Country needs an inter-governmental committee with youth and civil society reps focusing on the implementation of SRHR policies and to establish a transparent accountability mechanism. Punitive laws on homosexuality & abortion also needs to be relaxed.

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

The change I wish to see and achieve is to establish a national level accountability mechanism which will ensure the policies, conventions & frameworks on SRHR in place, are implemented creating ripple effects on the lives of every citizen. My vision is to make the structure and functionality of this mechanism youth led, multi-sectorial and human rights based. This accomplishment would be an accelerator in achieving sustainable development and addressing inequalities & social injustices.

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