Youth representatives from Asia and Africa will hold the partnership accountable to fulfilling its promises to the largest generation of young people in history
[MARCH 1, 2018, WASHINGTON, DC] Today, two outstanding young people join Family Planning 2020’s (FP2020) Reference Group—made up of global leaders devoted to reaching women and girls with lifesaving modern contraception—to serve as a critical link between FP2020 and the youth networks working on behalf of their peers around the world. They were chosen from more than 250 of people under 30 worldwide who applied for the two positions.
Manasa Priya Vasudevan of India is a program manager for the New Delhi-based YP Foundation, a youth-run and youth-led organization that supports and fosters young leaders working to advance the rights of young women and girls. She focuses on programming that moves the needle on sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people, and delivers comprehensive sexuality education to marginalized youth.
“In my own personal and professional experience, I have noticed that growing up, young people—especially adolescent girls and unmarried young women—have limited access to the services they need to survive and to thrive,” explained Vasudevan. “This is not acceptable—and I look forward to joining and contributing to this group of leaders dedicated to righting that wrong.”
Mbencho Andrew Millan of Cameroon joins the Reference Group with years of experience as dynamic advocate for heath and family planning in his community and on the global stage. He is the founder and Executive Director of Youth Health International, an organization that works with young people and policymakers to remove barriers to accessing quality healthcare for young people. He was named one of 2017’s 120 Under 40, which celebrates the next generation of family planning leaders.
“I strongly believe that whoever you are, wherever you live, all the decisions you make about your own body should be yours,” said Millian. “As a member of the Reference Group and as a young advocate for family planning, I will use my voice to help our generation achieve that right.”
Both young people embody a deep and abiding passion for bringing quality, rights-based sexual and reproductive health services to their friends, family, peers, and community. Together, Manasa and Andrew will fill the Youth Seat that Margaret Bolaji of Nigeria held since early 2016. Margaret’s leadership helped build a link between FP2020 and youth networks in the family planning community—a critical mandate she passes on to her successors.
“We cannot leave young people out of the conversation on family planning,” said Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of FP2020. “I have no doubt that Manasa and Andrew will build on Margaret’s legacy of tenacity and ferocious advocacy on behalf of young people—it is our responsibility to include them, to listen, and to act on what they say.”
Working with young people to expand access to rights-based family planning is a pillar of FP2020’s vision and values. The past twelve months have seen several milestones for engagement and partnership with youth as the community looks to 2020 and beyond. Nearly every country commitment at the landmark Family Planning Summit in July 2017 included a focus on meeting the needs of adolescents and youth. At the same time, the family planning community launched several “Global Goods” that hone in on critical gaps for meeting the needs of young people. This year, FP2020 welcomed the first-ever commitments from five youth-led organizations, expanding and deepening the role of young people in the partnership.
“We are delighted and honored to welcome Manasa and Andrew to the Reference Group,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund and co-chair of the FP2020 Reference Group.
Fellow Reference group co-chair Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, added: “Manasa and Andrew are already champions for family planning in their home countries. We look forward to their guidance and ideas as FP2020 strives for deeper, stronger ties between the global family planning community and the young people who will lead that community in just a few years’ time.”
Vasudevan and Millan will join their first in-person Reference Group meeting with the full cohort of FP2020 leadership in July 2018.