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Integrated Health Program (IHP), 2019-2024, USAID/Nigeria
“I am glad that we have more of a sense of direction now. I look forward to sharing with my peers and community members the importance of adolescent health and rights!”
With her freshly acquired skills and confidence in public speaking, advocacy, and service outreach, Halima[*] was ready to contribute to her community.
With over half of the world’s population under the age 30, WI-HER advocates that young people, especially women, youth with disabilities, and youth from low economic levels or marginalized groups, be given opportunities to contribute to their communities. Youth have much to offer, if provided education, training, tools, and opportunities to participate. Volunteer initiatives, through which youth can develop skills and experience, can position them for future job opportunities and shape their self-perceptions as contributors and future leaders.
Through the USAID Integrated Health Program (IHP), led by prime Palladium, WI-HER has helped local governments in three Nigerian states (Kebbi, Bauchi, and Sokoto) to recruit and train gender and youth ambassadors (GYAs). These GYAs – most of them female – advocate among health providers and state decision makers for gender-sensitive and adolescent-friendly primary healthcare services (PHC) services that respond to youth needs. They also educate their peers and champion healthy behaviors and the utilization of the health system. GYAs speak at schools, facilities, and local and state government meetings, and participate in community advocacy events. They address gender equality, women’s empowerment, GBV prevention, social inclusion, family planning and sexual health, school retention, and nutrition. To date, 62 GYAs – who are working in Bauchi, Kebbi and Sokoto states – have reached 4,853 adolescents alone with health advocacy in FY21.
The skills and experience that youth gain as GYAs positions them for healthy lives and leadership roles with a sense of citizenship and their own important contributions in advancing the well-being of their communities and the social and economic future of their country. WI-HER believes that volunteering is an important responsibility for all of us, and an opportunity for youth to develop long-term skills and experience. More importantly, as volunteers, youth can understand their role as contributors and leaders in advancing the future of their communities.
[*] Name has been changed.