By Martine Aminata Ouedraogo, Youth Program Professional Coordination Assistant, IPPF Africa Region, based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
Burkina Faso’s population is predominantly young. Those under 15 years of age represent 45.3%, while 64.2% of the population is under 24 years of age, and 77.9% is under 35 years of age. (Source)
From 4 to 11 March 2023, I was part of an IPPF Africa Regional Office mission led by Regional Director Mrs. Marie-Evelyne Petrus-Barry to the IPPF Member Association in Burkina Faso, the Association Burkinabè pour le Bien Être et la Famille (ABBEF). The purpose of this mission was to present the youth transformation program, Stream 2, to the country's authorities and partners.
The "Youth in Action for Gender Transformation" project is a two-year catalytic project led by ABBEF together with a consortium of IPPF Member Associations in Mali, Niger, India, Tunisia, Togo, and an external youth organization, the African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AFRIYAN). AFRIYAN is a non-governmental organization present in several regions of Africa, including in Burkina Faso. The Stream 2 program is part of the strengthening of human rights and the meaningful engagement of youth in gender issues.
During the mission, the IPPF team met with various Government officials and key stakeholders who are influential in contributing to the successful implementation of the project. These included the Minister of Health and Public Hygiene and the Minister of Human Rights. The partners are UNFPA BURKINA, Pathfinder Burkina, USAID Burkina, and Amnesty International Burkina.
As a young Burkinabe woman aware of the fact that the population of my country is predominantly young, I believe that this project will foster the leadership development of my fellow youth. The project will enable us to freely develop the design and implementation of our youth program, to participate as actors in decision-making for the development of our localities, and to take on leadership roles while acting on social norms to address power inequalities and privilege between people of different sexes. It will also contribute to the empowerment of women, girls and people with diverse sexual orientations and identities.
The actions planned by ABBEF for the successful implementation of the project include the production of materials and content covering Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender equality; the use of channels and approaches according to the specificity of each target group to raise awareness in and out of school; the provision of sexual reproductive health (SRH) services through high-impact interventions; the promotion of gender equality through the "positive masculinity and CSE teaching" approach.
I believe that the "positive masculinity" approach, which is an approach aimed at involving men, boys, and adolescents in the development processes of egalitarian and inclusive societies and the promotion of gender equality through awareness raising in schools, extra-curricular activities and in our different communities will have a real impact on the achievement of this program.
Also, for an enabling environment, community power holders will be trained on SRHR. Finally, spaces for dialogue will be created as well as partnerships with public, private and community media.
According to Stephanie Thombiano, ABBEF’s Youth Action Movement *(YAM) President, “Stream 2 is a transformative program, that focuses on young people as actors in the transformation of social norms regarding gender. I think it is a great asset for our member associations to run this program in consortium with young people.”
“Youth are the hope of Burkina Faso, and it is therefore important to empower them. It is important that their actions and contributions are valued. Youth must be part of the deal,” said the IPPF Africa Regional Director, Mrs. Petrus-Barry, during the meeting with the members of the ABBEF Youth Action Movement (YAM).
This mission to my home country, Burkina Faso, was very insightful for me, in the sense that I could really see the positive impact of the youth transformation program in the country, especially in the current security context, and strengthen my capacities in terms of team management.
*YAM: In 2004, in recognition of the importance of effective and meaningful youth participation in youth programs, the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) established the Youth Action Movement (YAM) as a primary means of building youth capacity, improving youth participation in governance, leadership and management of youth programs. The YAM brings together young volunteers aged 10 to 24 in IPPF Africa Region Member Associations.
Martine Aminata P. Ouedraogo started as a Program Intern at IPPF Africa Region and later became a Coordination Assistant for the Professional Youth Program at the West and Central Africa Sub-Regional Office of the International Planned Parenthood Federation based in Abidjan.
Quote: “My journey at IPPF has been very rewarding. Today, more than ever, as a youth activist and leader, I feel very capable and well equipped to defend and carry the voice of young people all over the world, and especially in Africa. All young people should have access to information about their rights and be able to claim them. It is important for us to be able to express ourselves and our sexuality in a pleasant and healthy way.”