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Shishu Ranjan is a Youth Accountability Advocate from India who will be at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) to speak about his advocacy work in family planning and sexual health rights. The ICFP is a chance for countries, organisations and individuals to make public commitments to family planning and be recognised for their achievements. The conference is an opportunity for people from across the board from political leaders and scientists to advocates and young people to share knowledge, celebrate success and identify the next steps needed towards reaching the goal of enabling an additional 120 million women to access voluntary, quality contraception by 2020.

“A Learner today, is a Leader tomorrow”

As a young person, this is my motto in life whilst I work within my community to achieve  long term sustainable development.

Implementing a learning process in society has the potential to improve conditions for the less fortunate. Working with young people is a great opportunity for achieving any goal. We have a passionate fresh mind and the ability to adapt. We can do anything and although we might make mistakes we will learn from our failures.

Youth Advocate Shishu Ranjan on the right

The great Indian Philosopher Vivekananda said:

A brave, frank, clean- hearted, courageous and aspiring youth is the only foundation on which the future nation can be built.”

It’s a very exciting time for me! I have been selected to represent Youth Power in an International Conference on Family Planning which will be held at Kigali, Rwanda next week. It’ll be my first ever trip abroad. It’s a great opportunity for me to expose young people’s issues on Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights (SRHR); Usage and Access to Contraception and Knowledge on Family Planning.

I was introduced to Restless Development in March 2018 and trained on SRHR, Sustainable Development Goals, Gender Equality, and Family Planning. As a student of Post Graduation in Chemistry, I was still unaware of these terms until the age 21.

More than 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25 and more than 56% are under the age of 35. I talked to many young people aged between 18-30 at Universities and Colleges in Ranchi, Jharkhand. I was surprised at the limited knowledge on the topic of SRHR. This inspired me to focus my accountability and advocacy work on the ‘usage and access to contraceptives among young person’.

I am from a very traditional rural background of a small district of Jharkhand, Giridih.  According to a survey, more than 70% of girls in the district are victims of child marriage. Statistics from the Indian Census and the UNFPA suggest this state is the 3rd worst place in India for child marriage. According to NHFS (National Health and Family Survey) In Jharkhand, 12 out of every 100 pregnant women are teenagers.

In my village, I have seen a lot of child marriages and early pregnancies. I have seen women with a lot of complications during pregnancy and deliveries such as mother-child death; natality death and anemia due to early pregnancies.  If a child is married young then it is likely early pregnancies will occur. In rural areas, people lack knowledge about the importance of temporary and permanent contraceptives.

When I was 4 or 5 years old, my uncle was a Family Planning volunteer. This meant that condom packets were kept in my home to distribute among villagers. As a child, I used to blow up the condoms like balloons because almost nobody was interested in using them. After 15 years I  see the same situation where nobody is interested in condoms or contraceptive pills. Generally, in villages, women undergo permanent contraception by Tubectomy.

One of my friends from the village recently lost his second child at the age of 23. His wife is 19 and gave birth to her first child when she was only 17. Child marriage and lack of knowledge on family planning contributes to these problems.

All these aforementioned matters motivate me to work for SRHR and Family Planning.

When we talk about family planning we tend to discuss the use of contraception, however, the topic is not confined to birth control. It is important for people to be informed on the bigger picture to see an improvement for the family’s economic condition and for better health of the mother and her children.

Without educating the younger generation we can not achieve SDGs and Family Planning 2020 targets. As young people we make up for 50% of the whole population of India, therefore we are the future parents. If we are not educated then we will repeat the same population burst as the previous generation.  

I am currently collecting data from young people between the ages of 18-30 on knowledge, attitude and practice of Contraceptives, SRHR and family planning.

I will be at the ICFP to gain more knowledge on family planning. I hope to find out how developing countries are moving positively towards the global goal indicators of family planning and how they have implemented the policies made by the UN and Family Planning 2020.  I hope it will enable me to create an international network with scientists and organisations.

After the ICFP I hope I will be able to create a platform for young people to discuss the use the modern methods of contraception. I want to create a place where we will have proper sexual and reproductive health rights and a place where every young person will have proper sex education.

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