Type to search

Interactive Quick Read Reading Time: < 1 minute

Meaningful Youth Engagement in Family Planning Programs

Insights from the 2021 Learning Circles Francophone Africa and the Caribbean Cohort

From October 2021 through December 2021, members of the family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) workforce based in francophone sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean convened virtually for the second Knowledge SUCCESS Learning Circles cohort. The cohort focused on the topic of meaningful youth engagement in FP/RH programs.

Read the French version of this post here.

Goals of Learning Circles

  • Network with colleagues in the same region who are facing similar programmatic challenges.
  • Share in-depth, practical solutions to priority challenges that peers can immediately adapt and implement to improve their own family planning programs.
  • Learn new and creative ways for exchanging knowledge and gain the skills needed to replicate those techniques.

Through bi-weekly Zoom sessions and WhatsApp chats, 38 participants from 12 countries across francophone sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean shared personal experiences around what’s working and what isn’t working when it comes to engaging youth in a meaningful way.

Key Takeaways

  • Meaningful engagement of youth in FP/RH programming requires strategic program design as well as capacity strengthening for young people, for instance, through skills-building workshops, coaching or mentorship, and content production competitions.
  • Socio-cultural barriers continue to be a common challenge when it comes to families and communities sharing information with adolescents and youth about sexual and reproductive health and rights. Increasing the number of health centers for youth, emphasizing religion’s support of birth-spacing, and integrating Behavior Change Communication approaches are a few strategies to address this challenge.
  • Civil society organizations and the private sector can both play an instrumental role in advocating for government funding for Comprehensive Sexuality Education programs and other FP/RH initiatives.
  • The use of peer mobilizers is an effective education tool for combating myths and misconceptions about contraception that are prominent amongst young people.

Explore More Insights from the Cohort

Sophie Weiner

Program Officer II, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Sophie Weiner is a Knowledge Management and Communications Program Officer II at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs where she is dedicated to developing print and digital content, coordinating project events, and strengthening capacity for storytelling in Francophone Africa. Her interests include family planning/reproductive health, social and behavior change, and the intersection between population, health, and the environment. Sophie holds a B.A. in French/International Relations from Bucknell University, an M.A. in French from New York University, and a master’s degree in Literary Translation from the Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Aïssatou Thioye

West Africa Knowledge Management and Partnerships Officer, Knowledge SUCCESS, FHI 360

Aïssatou Thioye est dans la division de l'utilisation de la recherche, au sein du GHPN de FHI360 et travaille pour le projet Knowledge SUCCESS en tant que Responsable de la Gestion des Connaissances et du Partenariat pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Dans son rôle, elle appuie le renforcement de la gestion des connaissances dans la région, l’établissement des priorités et la conception de stratégies de gestion des connaissances aux groupes de travail techniques et partenaires de la PF/SR en Afrique de l’Ouest. Elle assure également la liaison avec les partenaires et les réseaux régionaux. Par rapport à son expérience, Aïssatou a travaillé pendant plus de 10 ans comme journaliste presse, rédactrice-consultante pendant deux ans, avant de rejoindre JSI où elle a travaillé dans deux projets d’Agriculture et de Nutrition, successivement comme mass-media officer puis spécialiste de la Gestion des Connaissances.******Aïssatou Thioye is in the Research Utilization Division of the GHPN of FHI 360 and works for the Knowledge SUCCESS project as the Knowledge Management and Partnership Officer for West Africa. In her role, she supports the strengthening of knowledge management in the region, setting priorities and designing knowledge management strategies at the FP/RH technical and partner working groups in West Africa. She also liaises with regional partners and networks. In relation to her experience, Aïssatou worked for more than 10 years as a press journalist, then as an editor-consultant for two years, before joining JSI where she worked on two Agriculture and Nutrition projects, successively as a mass-media officer and then as a Knowledge Management specialist.

Alison Bodenheimer

Family Planning Technical Advisor, Knowledge SUCCESS

Alison Bodenheimer is the family planning technical advisor for Knowledge SUCCESS (KS), based within the Research Utilization division at FHI 360. In this role, Alison provides global technical strategic leadership to the project and supports knowledge management activities in West Africa. Before joining FHI 360 and KS, Alison served as postpartum family planning manager for FP2030 and technical advisor for Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health with Pathfinder International. Previously, she managed the Francophone Africa advocacy portfolio with Advance Family Planning at Johns Hopkins’ Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health. In addition to a focus on reproductive health and family planning, Alison has a background in health and rights in emergencies, most recently consulting for Columbia University and UNICEF in Jordan to improve monitoring and reporting of child rights violations in conflict throughout the Middle East and North Africa region. Fluent in French, Alison has a BA in Psychology and French from College of the Holy Cross and an MPH in Forced Migration and Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Ruwaida Salem

Senior Program Officer, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Ruwaida Salem, Senior Program Officer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, has nearly 20 years of experience in the global health field. As team lead for knowledge solutions and lead author of Building Better Programs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Knowledge Management in Global Health, she designs, implements, and manages knowledge management programs to improve access to and use of critical health information among health professionals around the world. She holds a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Akron, and a Graduate Certificate in User Experience Design from Kent State University.