This Valentine's Day, young people need our help
The cost of contraception could stand between Fanirisoa and her dreams.
Young love can be exhilarating, but for teens in many of the countries where we work, it comes at a high risk. This Valentine’s Day, we’re highlighting why their access to reproductive healthcare – from sex education to contraception – is so crucial as they celebrate love, relationships and their power to decide their futures.
She lives in Madagascar, where cultural norms can make it difficult for young people to have open, honest conversations about sex and contraception. In a country where almost two-thirds of the population is under age 25, we’re working to meet their needs in new ways.
After meeting her boyfriend at age 17, Fanirisoa started thinking about contraception as their relationship became more serious. Still in school and living under her parents’ roof, she knew it wasn’t the right time to get pregnant.
One day, a Marie Stopes community health educator approached her with a voucher for free services at a local provider. Fanirisoa and her boyfriend didn’t waste any time following up on the offer.
Of the doctor they saw that day, Fanirisoa says “she welcomed us into her office without judgement, and we went through all the contraceptive methods we could access.”
"I did not want to discuss my intimate relationship and sexual life with my parents, and the fact that contraception was free meant that I did not have to request their help to get it. I could go to the doctor on my own and still act responsibly."
At MSI, we know that young people don’t live in a social vacuum. Just because clients like Fanirisoa want contraception, doesn’t mean they know where to get it or how to pay for it – so we use tools like vouchers and community health educators to connect young people to our services. Her story showcases just some of the ways we're working to include more youth in our programs.
Unfortunately, the US Government-funded voucher program that provided young women like Fanirisoa with more than 170,000 free services in Madagascar recently closed because of President Trump’s Global Gag Rule. Now, Fanirisoa will have to find another way to pay for the contraceptive pills she previously received for free. In US dollars, they cost approximately 30 cents per month.
This Valentine’s Day, we’re looking for new partners to help us do this work – so young people like Fanirisoa in Madagascar and around the world can celebrate life and love without fear of an unplanned pregnancy. Take action.