Family Planning & Young People

By Yemurai Nyoni

From a young person’s eyes, Family Planning as we know it has been a subject for old married women who have had enough children for the family to bear financially. It’s viewed as a topic championed by elderly health care workers waiting for their age-mates to come and receive guidance and services for them to manage their fertility. We see it as a social privilege for married women, who are considered as having the ‘right’ to access sexual healthcare to support their ‘acceptable’ sexual activity.

Family Planning for young people has been a battle against social condemnation, ignorance and neglect at the detriment of the health and future of young people. It’s a perilous area characterized by under-informing by teachers and parents for fear of giving young people the tools to experiment; and the filling of that knowledge gap with hazardous information from ill-informed peers, fantastical movies and magazines. It’s a matter of smuggling condoms in books for fear of discovery, and out-smarting till operators with cunning speech to justify the inclusion of condoms in a young person’s grocery. It’s a secretive affair of sneaking into clinics and youth centers to get pills, advice and other commodities whilst suffering accusing glances from older patrons and harsh prejudicial rebuke from health workers who believe that a young woman who has never been pregnant cannot use family planning and occasionally threaten to share private information with parents and guardians who are their friends.

We undoubtedly live in a society that makes it difficult for young people to realize their sexual reproductive health and rights particularly regarding family planning. We must realize that there is more to family planning than we have perceived, and at this time and point in our nation it has become imperative for us to enable young people to make healthy reproductive choices. One young columnist wrote, “When people can plan their families, they can plan their lives. They can plan to beat poverty. They can plan on healthier mothers and children. They can plan to gain equality for women.” Family Planning for young people is a call to social conscience, individual reason and collective action.

Yemurai Nyoni is the National Facilitator at Zimbabwe Young People’s Network on SRH, HIV and AIDS. Connect with him on his blog, twitter or email: yemurain@gmail.com

Stay posted for his subsequent posts calling for conscience, reason and action.

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