Last Wednesday, the Githurai Youth Empowerment Centre in Githurai, Nairobi County, Kenya celebrated International Youth Day and hosted a panel to discuss vital issues affecting youth in Kenya, namely teenage pregnancy, youth unemployment, and access to family planning measures. Photographer Brian Otieno interviewed participants about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them personally, how access to information on family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) has been impacted, and what they hope for the future.
Watch this space to meet the youths facilitating change in Githurai!
First up is Jackie Kahwai, a 22-year-old peer educator at the Link Empowerment Inititative.
“COVID-19 has affected us as young people because we can not access some of the services in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in our youth centre and the number of services has also been reduced. We always have services twice or three times a month but, due to COVID-19, we cannot have those services. What worries me the most now is that the youths are not able to access family planning services like we used to do and also there are no jobs for them.
What I would like to see to ensure that my rights are protected and respected is to have more youth-friendly services and facilities built in my community. Also, youths should be engaged more in matters relating to SRH, empowerment and advocacy. If this pandemic continues, we will be at high risk, mostly of teenage pregnancies. Teenage pregnancy has increased now because schools are closed and children are at home and they cannot access family planning services, mainly because of fear of going to healthcare facilities. We don’t have youth-friendly centres and that is what they want.”
Listen to Jackie’s interview here:
COVID-19 is affecting young people’s access to critical health services in Kenya and around the world as resources are diverted to address the pandemic. This is particularly impacting young women and girls. At the Right By Her campaign, we stand Right By Her in the fight for women’s rights. Where do you stand?