Isaiah Owolabi

Isaiah Owolabi - 2016 Nominee
Position: Co-executive director
Organization: International Youth Alliance For Family Planning
Founder of Hacey's Health Initiative, Commonwealth Queen’s Young Leaders Awardee, Fellow of the United States Consulate Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative, member of the International AIDS Society, Young Investigator Award Winner – Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu, Adviser on Law and Policy at International Youth Alliance For Family Planning
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

As a co-founder of International Youth Alliance for Family Planning i have worked with the members and leadership team to grow the organisation from an entity that started as a group discussion to an organisation with over 40 country coordinators and 1,500 members. Also as the co-founder of HACEY Health Initiative i have the led the organisation since October 2007 to implement programs in the most rural areas and urban slums of Nigeria so as to help women and young people have access to family planning information and services. so far my work has directly reached over 10,000 women and girls especially in the Northern part of Nigeria.Through our program we have been able to overcome cultural barrier in several communities thereby encouraging men to discuss family planning with their spouse

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I studied physiology for my B.Sc. Many of our projects happened in the laboratory. The quest to transform scientific knowledge into big relevance in the society is what increased my interest in reproductive health. I saw many girls and women give birth to children they dont want. Many times this crash their dreams. I wanted to help women and girls change their own story by making sure that quality family planning information and service is always available whenever they need it.

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

Implementing a family planning program in Northern part of Nigeria was a big challenge. It is against almost everyone's belief and culture. But i worked with my team to make sure that we got community buy in and the buy in of the traditional leaders. This made it easy to implement the program and we have been able to use the success story from one community to convince leaders across other communities where we have implemented over 10 family planning programs.

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

Policy formulation and implementation is a big challenge for family planning interventions in Nigeria. We do not have strong policies that encourages the provision of quality family planning education and services for all. In order to address this challenge we strengthen existing institutions and also encourage government to make family planning and service a big priority in the health agenda. When institutions are strengthened they become useful tools to drive policy implementation

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

An organisation that has directly provided quality family planning information and services to over 50,000 women and girls in Nigeria. I want my organisation to be the lead partner of the government in accelerating impact of family planning programs.

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