As YES alumni return to their home countries every year, they continue efforts in helping resolve issues within their field of interest.
For some, this is noticeable at a local level. For others, their works are noticed internationally, gaining praise from around the globe. One YES alumna’s work this year has accomplished exactly this.
Earlier this month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announced its 2017 winners of the 120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders. Amongst the winners announced was Aisha Waziri.
Waziri (YES alumna 2011-12) is a volunteer and youth advocate for the Centre for Girls Education in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Her interest in educating girls about their sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) peaked when she lost a teen friend during childbirth, according to Waziri’s statement on her nominee page for 120 Under 40.
Since then, Waziri has mentored over 500 girls in rural communities. She teaches the girls basic literacy, numeracy and life skills. She has also helped to establish five health clubs in five secondary schools for girls and pioneered a project called “Leaders for Her Health.”
Leaders for Her Health is a program to help advocate for young girls and their education on SRHR and family planning. Through this program, Waziri has been able to reach over 1800 people in more than 10 communities.
As a winner of the 120 Under 40 competition, Waziri is awarded $1,000 from the Gates Institute to help her continue her work. Waziri plans on using the money to continue moving forward with Leaders for Her Health and to collect data on the number of girls who needs help with SRHR and family planning, which will help Waziri achieve her demographic opportunity.
120 Under 40 is a competition that recognizes and highlights the achievements of young innovators across the globe who are on their way to becoming the next generation of leaders in family planning.
The competition selects 40 winners through an application process, public online voting and scoring by a jury of family planning experts and leaders.
The project was formed to shed light on the impacts young leaders in family planning are making today. It consists of three stages: Nominate, Vote and Celebrate. These stages take place in 2016, 2017 and 2019 in hopes the roster will be complete by 2020 in time for the enablement of the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership.
As a part of the roster, Waziri would help to bring high-quality, voluntary contraception to more than 120 million women and girls worldwide.