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Image credit: My Health, My Value

My Health, My Value

My Health, My Value

Using technology to break communication barriers

Image above: Petrider Paul presenting My Health, My Value

Queen's Young Leader, Petrider Paul, shares how technology is driving sexual reproductive health conversations across the Commonwealth.

In sub-Sahara Africa, six Queens Young Leaders are raising an army of sexual reproductive health (SRH) advocates across the Commonwealth. This is done through the My Health, My Value initiative, a Queen’s Young Leaders Legacy Network Project. 

My Health, My Value is led by Petrider Paul, Mbabazi Elizabeth, Given Edward, Holly Bantleman, Nancy Sibo, Josephine Nabukenya and Nondumiso Hlophe.

It aims to promote “the mentality to young people, especially young women and parents, that it is normal to discuss sexual reproductive health issues in the society.”

The initiative also promotes platforms where young people can get access to contraceptives, information on sexual reproductive health issues and sexual transmitted diseases and infections.

Breaking barriers

My Health, My Value mainly uses social media platforms to drive sexual and reproductive health discussions. This is because of the platforms' potential to reach a wider audience regionally amongst its youth.

In August 2017, the pilot phase of the project was launched in East and Southern Africa – Tanzania, Kenya and Swaziland. Outreach programmes were organised in these countries, each with its own objectives.

For instance, the outreach in Kenya was held alongside the project launch. Petrider and her team invited stakeholders and young sexual reproductive health advocates to provide information on various ways to access services.

In Swaziland, Nondumiso led a workshop for 50 young women, where a correct condom usage demonstration was given and various topics around SRH were discussed.

Participants also developed common solutions on how young people can influence change within their own communities.

Petrider says what makes My Health, My Value different from similar sexual reproductive health initiatives is that it is led by youths who are looking at using technology development to raise awareness.

She believes that the diverse skill of each team member will “make the project have a wider impact and bring in value of the Commonwealth essence”.

The Leading Change course also helped to strengthen the My Health My Value initiative. Petrider says the team found the branding and social media master class most useful since 70% of the project relies on it.

“It is also through creative branding and usage of social media that the initiative has been able to drive the conversation forward,” she explains.

Commonwealth reach

My Health, My Value currently works with 20 sexual reproductive health – or SRH  champions across the Commonwealth.

The SRH champions were chosen based on their experience, work validity, and the uniqueness of how they are promoting sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) activities within their communities.

My Health, My Value team

My Health, My Value team. Image credit: My Health, My Value

Joshua Sefesi is one of the SRH champions, whose role includes projecting the My Health, My Value goals within their respective countries.

''The fight to uphold SRHR became much closer to me because it cover issues such as gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy – issues which are affecting the youths in the Kingdom of Tonga,” he says.

However, Petrider says SRH champions will not be able to fully take on their duties until the project moves to its next phase. The plan is to scale up the project to other Commonwealth countries within a year.

This will be done through advocacy outreach conducted in schools, universities and media houses by Queen's Young Leaders and sexual reproductive health advocates.

Overcoming challenges

Initially the team found it hard to convince people that the programme is not only for Queen’s Young Leaders. So the team ensures that half of its SHR champions were not Queen’s Young Leaders.

Getting the right people to attend the outreach was also a challenge.

“When we had the Kenya outreach and launch, there was political instability because of the elections,” Petrider recalls. “We decided not to invite any political leader to the event. Instead, we invited a well-known young changemaker Ruth Ambogo – Founder of Young Women in Leadership in Kenya so that she can inspire other young people.”

Four women standing in front of My Health, My Value banner

Hope Mwanyuma, Founder Hope Alive Africa Initiative, Ruth Ambogo and other partipants at the outreach in Kenya. Image credit: My Health, My Value

Another problem was the currency differentiation across countries.

“When we wanted to launch the project in Kenya, we discovered that the currency conversion rate to Kenyan Shilling was double that of Tanzanian Shilling, which we originally used for calculation of the project fund,” says Petrider.

“We had to see if we could borrow or get discount on some materials used for the outreach.”

Wider impact

So far, about 50 young people have benefitted directly from the project. The project has also received support from several non-governmental and international organisations within the team's member countries.

To ensure sustainability of the project, Petrider and her team keeps engaging members and partners through websites and sexual reproductive health initiatives across the Commonwealth.

“With this, we are projecting the legacy of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, ” Petrider says. “We are setting an example for young people across the world that anyone can make a change and everyone can be part of the movement.”

My Health, My Value outreach in Kenya. Panellists include Ghati Christine, Petrider Paul and guest of honour and Founder of Young Women Leaders in Kenya, Ruth Ambogo with the moderator Walta Gabriel Busulwa, who is the Founder of the Abawala Trust Africa

“We are setting an example for young people across the world that anyone can make a change and everyone can be part of the movement.”

Petrider Paul