Onyinye Edeh

Onyinye Edeh - 2016 Nominee
Position: Founder & Executive Director
Organization: Strong Enough Girls' Empowerment Initiative
Edeh implemented successful workshops on sexual reproductive health among the youth in Nigeria.She mobilized diverse stakeholders to dialogue to strengthen Family Life as part of a government goal. – Winnie Kiche, Student at University of Washington
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

As a Global Health professional and passionate advocate for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, I have immersed myself in global opportunities that have allowed me to advance the sexual and overall health of youths. As a Program Officer with an adolescent health org. in Nigeria, I implemented training workshops for secondary school teachers and medical students and conducted school outreach visits on adolescent SRH. I coordinated the distribution of approximately 10,000 Family Life and HIV/AIDS (FLHE) textbooks to students and teachers in public junior secondary schools to strengthen Comprehensive Sexuality Education. My non-profit initiative advocates for the holistic well-being of girls and women, including access to Family Planning education and services.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I have always had a passion for health, especially empowering young people about their sexual and reproductive health. As a teenager growing up in Atlanta, USA, I watched many of my peers become pregnant when they were not ready to be a parent. A 2010 summer trip to my home country of Nigeria further heightened my awareness of FP challenges globally and sparked my passion for providing FP services to girls and women in particular in order to avoid the tragic stories due to unsafe abortion.

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

Talking to adolescents about sexual and reproductive health (SRH), including family planning remains a taboo topic. To overcome this challenge, I engage parents, teachers, and community members in workshops and conversations on why & how to talk to young people about SRH. While in Nigeria, I worked with a local church to host an event with adolescent boys and girls to discuss family planning and other adolescent health topics. I also use my social media platforms to encourage discussions on SRH.

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

Access to SRH and family planning information and services for young people remains a great challenge in Nigeria. Young people need youth-friendly services to ensure that they have the right information, resources, and skills to protect themselves. We need public and private sector engagements to strategize effective plans to address young people's lack of access to these life-saving services. Community members and leaders also need to be sensitized on the rights and needs of the youths.

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

In the next five years, I want to be a part of turning the tide on unwanted and teenage pregnancies and unsafe abortions in developing countries (specifically in Africa) and in the US. I want to continue to work with my non-profit to ensure that every girl is empowered with the social and material support she needs to be a productive citizen and live out her full potential. I want to nurture strong enough girls and women who value and protect their bodies and their futures.

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