In Nigeria, Sarah Kuponiyi through her NGO aims at creating a safer Africa for youths

Years after going through poor and un-dignifying sexual health development and watching peers suffer sexual abuses due to lack of comprehensive sexuality education and services; I became afraid of what will befall other young people if nothing is done now. This thought of the future inspired me to take action which started as a campus movement through my graduation with a degree in Microbiology and Youth-Sexual-Reproductive Health Certificate; having over 5-year experience working as a Sexual Reproductive Health Peer Educator that led to the formation of community social organization called Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights Initiative – in 2017

My organization have been using multi-sectorial programs like a well-informed adolescent campaign, youth club activities, skills acquisition, recreational activities, provision of safe spaces in some communities, school campaigns, online/social media campaign and peer health education to provide Comprehensive Sexuality Education to over 2000 young people in Cross River Nigeria enabling those who have benefited to have knowledge & capacity/skills to make well-informed choices about their sexual/reproductive lives, learn how to avoid & deal with sexual-health related problems and seek for help when needed. Comprehensive sexuality education disrupts harmful gender norms and promotes gender equality, which helps reduce or prevent gender-based violence and hence create safe and inclusive society for all.

Sarah Kuponiyi talking to kids in school

This work is important to me because Young people face profound challenges such as high rates of early marriage, unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and maternal mortality and morbidity. Our work address these challenges and help meet reproductive health needs of young people while breaking the culture of silence and seeking more policy reforms to tackle these. The project is needed because WHO estimates that about two – thirds of premature deaths in adults are related to early adoption of harmful behaviors initiated in adolescence such as unprotected sex, violence, smoking or substance use. The choices and decisions they make today have long term repercussions on the future, during adolescence health and social behaviors are prove for life; therefore it is imperative to address both sexual and reproductive and gender issues of an adolescent.

This need exists because today’s generation of youths is the largest in history. In 2013, young people ages 10-24 were estimated 25% of the total population. Their decision and behavior will affect the world’s social, environmental and economic well-being for generations.
Furthermore, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights are universal human rights and it is part of Sustainable development goals (SDGs 3 Good health and well-being for all at all ages) which is ensuring universal access to sexual reproductive health care services including family planning, information, and education and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programs by 2030.

We are currently working on numerous projects like; a well informed adolescent campaign , book publication to address adolescent health needs, establishment of safe spaces etc. We will like to be Number one most youth friendly safe space in Nigeria.

Sarah at YALI RLC Accra Ghana

A 2019 nominee for 120 under 40 New Generation of Family Planning Leaders, recipient of Sustainable Solutions Africa under 30 2019, cohort 15 YALI RLC Accra Ghana,  Recognizing Excellence Around Champions of Health (REACH) Award honoree 2019, Member Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and a proud young leader from Nigeria.