Jillian Gedeon

Jillian Gedeon - 2016 Nominee
Position: Co-Executive Director
Organization: International Youth Alliance for Famly Planning
She is a strong young leader and researcher who is highly dedicated in SRHR and particularly Family Planning. Her undeniable effort is seen in the creation and two years of leading IYAFP – William Otuck, Director of Human Resourses at International Youth Allince for Family Planning
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

My work in family planning spans many contexts and countries but co-founding the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) is one of my largest (ongoing) achievements in this field. Leading the alliance alongside the other incredible young leaders has given me the ability to actively work to technically support and nurture youth groups while inspiring them to take their own action on issues that matter to them and their community. We have over 50 Country Coordinators and over 400 members worldwide – a true indication that young people want to take control and have a say in their rights.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My passion for both equity and equality has always been a part of my personality. Whether it be of gender, opportunity, or health, I have always wanted to see a world where everybody has equal opportunities to realize their full potential. It was not until my university studies, though, that I learned about the incredible positive consequences that come from women empowerment which can ultimately be catalyzed by eliminated taboos related to SRHR and improving access and availability to FP.

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

One FP challenge I’ve faced was censoring my sexual health course to make it culturally appropriate & less taboo while teaching migrant youth on the Thailand-Burma border. I couldn’t even call it a sexual health class- I titled it “Life skills” to get it approved. However, after talking extensively to the school principal we agreed that I could have an anonymous question box that has no limits with what could be asked and that weekly exercise gave both the youth and myself a space to talk freely

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

Though Canada may be recognized as a country with fewer SRHR issues compared to other countries, it is important to note that young, unmarried, and/or financially dependent people face many barriers to accessing family planning methods and abortion. Contraception can be extremely expensive without insurance and youth friendly services are rare. Also, women in Canada have fewer choices for FP as the implant is not distributed in the country! Policy change/better services in Canada is warranted.

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

I personally want to see and help IYAFP grow into an internationally recognized organization that continues to support youth in our endeavor to get our voices heard in this field. I also want to have more opportunities to develop SRHR peer education materials and work with young people on the ground to build capacity and share knowledge in this field.

Subscribe to receive email updates about 120 Under 40.