Leila Wanjiru

Leila Wanjiru - 2016 Nominee
Position: Project Manager
Organization: I Choose Life-Africa
Leila, an enthusiastic youth SRHR advocate, has enabled young women in Universities in Kenya to access full range of effective, acceptable, and affordable contraceptives as tools for life planning. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I firmly believe that the world’s 1.8 billion youth can transform the future and propel development if nations invest in their health, welfare and education. Reducing unintended pregnancies, particularly among young people, can improve educational and employment opportunities for women, which would in turn contribute to improving the status of women, increasing family savings, reducing poverty and spurring economic growth.
I encourage young women in universities to take up FP through talks about their hopes and dreams for their near future and framing FP as “Future Protection” as opposed to talking with them about “Family Planning.” This life planning journey that has seen a 20% increase in uptake of FP and increased access to high quality FP information, services and supplies.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My passion for FP began in my second year of campus as a peer educator. I would offer information and referral for services for many cases of unintended pregnancies among my peers. Such peers and today's adolescents risk getting repeated pregnancies due to lack of knowledge on how to prevent conception.
Ever since, I endeavored to increase access to high-quality and affordable FP information and services to prevent unintended pregnancies among adolescents and youth.

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

The main barriers in our efforts to create demand for modern contraceptive uptake among young women in universities were myths and misconceptions. Many young women have fear and concerns about side effects of family planning. Such fears are mostly based on myths that contraceptives cause birth defects and infertility among others. We have work with JHPIEGO to distribute “Stop Rumors! Get the Facts!” booklets and also organised mass media and peer campaign to demystify contraceptives among youth.

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

Young women in Kenya face a high unmet need for FP. This has been attributed to inadequate service provision, poor access to FP services especially at the community and facility level, inadequate supply of FP commodities and inadequate government funding of FP programs.
There is great need for the government to take up the support for family planning through increased budgetary
allocation for FP programs; Increase number of health workers and accessibility to services for hard to reach areas.

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

I want my country to eliminate policy, financing,delivery and socio-cultural barriers to young women accessing contraceptive quality information, services and supplies. I want my government to implement commitments like FP2020 and allocate more resources to health from 6% to the recommended 15% of total budget.
I will also work with my government to implement the minimum package for integrated FP and HIV services to address barriers to access to affordable and high-quality info & services.

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