Young people are a powerful force for change. In Asia, we see this with the young leaders involved with IWHC partner Asia Safe Abortion Partnership (ASAP), who are boldly taking on sexual and reproductive rights in often conservative societies.
ASAP's Youth Advocacy Institute provides training and mentorship to help young leaders promote safe abortion and reproductive health throughout the region. Unsafe abortion—a major cause of maternal death and injury—is a significant problem in Asia; approximately 40 percent of abortions performed in 2008 in the region were unsafe, and in some parts, it's 60-65 percent. Even in those countries where abortion is legal, the procedure is often performed by untrained providers.
The youth champions participating in the Institute are working to change this. After taking part in a training last year, they were given small grants for related projects that showed promise and they became mentors and trainers of other youth themselves—ensuring the movement carries forward. Here are a few of the many dedicated and talented young people leading the charge.
Sarah Ashaya Soysa, 26, Sri Lanka
“It is very encouraging to see more and more young people advocating and being passionate about the right to safe abortion, and joining the movement. There is more resistance towards gender inequality in the younger generation and young women and men are willing to identify as feminists.” Read more
Sarah Jane Biton, 26, the Philippines
“Sexual and reproductive health at first seems to be very a personal thing, but in fact it is a political, economic, and social issue. It's a basic human right and women's right, not only a personal matter.” Read more
Rola, 29, Lebanon
“My dream is that feminists and activists who do not necessarily label themselves as feminists find ways to stand together in solidarity and work to create the changes we want in our country and communities. We have to respect each other because none of us can do this alone or divided.” Read more
Pritam Potdar, 25, India
“I realized that every woman around suffers from discrimination and it is normalized in their life; no one feels that it is a violation of their rights. I have seen many of my school friends drop out from school, families offering dowries with their daughters in marriage, women forced to continue their pregnancies until they have a son.” Read more
Yu Yang, 23, China
“My dream is that everyone’s voices, especially young people's, are respected, and all young people are able to enjoy their sexual lives free from ill-health, unwanted pregnancy, violence, and discrimination.” Read more