Young people have varying information needs about their health and development that are often met with myths, misinformation, disinformation, and misconceptions.
Also, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed young people to greater risks of gender-based violence, adolescent pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, mental health issues and has posed a barrier to accessing accurate information and services.
To promote young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health information that is youth-friendly, non-judgmental, easily accessible, and responsive to young people’s needs, the African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) Nigeria developed and launched the Frequently Asked Questions Booklet on Adolescents & Youth Health, Well-being, and Development with support from Family Planning 2030 and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In his opening remarks, Shamwil Hassan – AfriYAN Nigeria’s Coordinator, commended young people across the country for their role in developing the questions and responses that shaped the contents of the booklet.
He also emphasized their agency as he stated that “now more than ever, young people know what they want and how they want it.”
The Program Officer, Anglophone Africa, Family Planning 2030, Onyinye Edeh, remarked that “the booklet is a powerful example of the key roles young people play in their health and development” and affirms that Family Planning 2030 will continue to support adolescent and young people’s rights to sexual and reproductive health information and services.
UNFPA West and Central Africa Regional Director – Mabingue Ngom – ably represented by UNFPA Nigeria Representative, Ulla Mueller, reiterated that the booklet would further contribute to closing the information gap in young people’s sexual and reproductive health and would promote quality health education and development for young people.
Ngozi Amanze, the National Programme Officer for Education, UNESCO, also stated that the booklet would contribute to ensuring that Nigeria achieves the sustainable development goals about young people’s health and development.
Before the official launch by Onyinye Edeh, an overview of the Frequently Asked Questions booklet was presented by Margaret Bolaji-Adegbola, the Committee Chair. She explained that the FAQs booklet, which was developed by the UNESCO International Guidance on Sexuality Education, seeks to increase adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive health knowledge, reinforce positive sexual attitudes/behaviors, and debunk myths and misconceptions around sexual and reproductive health.
The booklet addresses questions ranging from friendship, love, and romantic relationships to gender-based violence, puberty, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
It also contains resources for finding help and a directory of adolescent and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health service providers across Nigeria.
African Nigeria’s Deputy Coordinator, Elizabeth Williams, announced that the Frequently Asked Booklets would be disseminated digitally, as well as in printed copies to bridge the digital divide that may hinder some young people’s access to the booklet.
The African Youth & Adolescents Network on Population and Development was established in Nigeria in 2016 by the United Nations Population Fund with the mandate to increase meaningful youth participation in Africa’s development while addressing the intersecting challenges in the lives of young people.
The network is comprised of youth-led and youth-focused organizations working in the areas of sexual reproductive health & rights (SRHR), gender, education, human rights, governance, entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and wellbeing.
By Adenike Fagbemi