3 Questions

Margo Bakker

Margo Bakker is the Alliance Officer of the Unite for Body Rights Programme (UFBR)/Access, Knowledge and Services Program (ASK). The UFBR programme was started by the SRHR Alliance (Simavi, Rutgers WPF, AMREF Flying Doctors, Dance4Life and CHOICE) in 2011. In 2013, two more NGOs and their partners joined to form the Youth Empowerment Alliance and developed the ASK programme. We talked to Margo at the Young & In Control event.

1

Why is Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for young people so important to you?

“Young people make up a huge part of the world population, yet their SRHR are often denied. We think everyone has the right to decide about their own body, relationship and lives and such a big group of people cannot be left behind. Furthermore, young people are a very diverse group of people and have specific needs. The alliance is also a diverse group of organisations, each with their own specialty. Together we work for and with young people and change their SRHR situation for the better.”

2

What, according to you, are the most important issue(s) in improving young people’s SRHR and how can they be addressed?

“That is a very difficult question as there is no simple answer to it. Improving young people’s SRHR asks for a broad focus as there are many factors that restrict their SRHR. I think addressing all these factors at the same time is the best way to make improvements. In the alliance we do this by working with a specific approach (the multi-component approach). With this we increase 1) the access to quality education and information on SRHR so young people can make informed decisions, 2) the access to quality services so young people can act on their decisions by obtaining contraceptives or get their selves tested for STI’s and 3) the acceptance of society concerning their SRHR so they will let young people make their own decisions without facing stigma or discriminatory laws.

In addition, I believe that listening to personal stories of young people is an important strategy in reaching young people and make an impact in their lives. We can talk about numbers: how many young people we have reached in improving their SRHR or how many people were trained, but what is most important is the changes that we have made to people’s actual lives.”

3

What result within the SRHR Alliance are you most proud of?

“I am very proud of the involvement of all the young people in the ASK and UFBR programmes. The different ways young people are involved and how they work with or within the organisations has grown so much over the years. Partners have learned how to involve young people and how to work with them; young people have learned how to work with adults and learned more about different aspects of programme management and implementation; and overall the programme had become better as it can better target the needs of young people by listening to them. For example, by joined efforts of the Tanzanian alliance (among others) pregnant girls now can go back to school after they have given birth.”

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