On August 12, 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!
“Before COVID-19, we used to have SRH and family planning services at our youth centre. Now we don’t have access to those services anymore. Young girls are getting pregnant and that’s worrying me a lot. We are requesting that the government and the organisations that support us bring back those services and we will try as much as possible to practise social distancing because people used to overcrowd.
As a young person, I always take it as my responsibility to share information on contraceptives and their benefits. Contraceptives prevent STDs and early pregnancies.
What I would like to see to ensure that my rights are respected is to have poster advertisements spreading the message about family planning and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. I would also like to see the establishment of several youth-friendly centres across the country to make sure that every young person out there who is sexually active remains protected and can decide on their future.
During these pandemic times, there have been many cases of teen pregnancies in Kenya, especially in the low-income settlements. I believe that family planning is important because it enables one to plan when to have children. When parents have not planned and are not ready, then cases of domestic violence might occur in the households.
The most common contraceptive for girls in my community is the three-month injection. Most youths that I know have tried it and they say it doesn’t have side effects. It is better than taking pills every day because it is possible to forget to take them or simply ignore them. The three-month injection is not stressful and is always the easiest for the women in my community.”
Risper Wahu, 22, is a mother of one and a member of the Link Empowerment Initiative in Githurai, Nairobi, Kenya.