Role of Youth in Family Planning – Prologue to Development and Growth

“India is the youngest country in the world and Uttar Pradesh is the youngest state. With the participation of the youth population, we are making Uttar Pradesh the best state” – these words are spoken by our Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Nothing could be further from the truth in these words. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the country with an estimate of around 25 crore people.

Uttar Pradesh’s improved growth represents a positive development for young people across the state. The state’s gross domestic product grew at a compound annual growth rate of about 8.43% between 2015-16 and 2020-21 to reach Rs 17.06 trillion.

This represents new economic opportunities that could be harnessed by young people, and it could be accelerated by empowering them to ensure access to family planning services and make informed decisions about spacing and limiting their families. . Family planning is an influential element in increasing individual, family, social and economic well-being.

The success of any family planning program depends on three factors: access, affordability, and availability of services and commodities; and when we talk about youth, it becomes even more critical to ensure that these are provided without any bias and/or stigma.

The recent NFHS-5 survey for Uttar Pradesh indicated that 14.4% of currently married women in the 15-24 age group are not using contraception but wish to postpone the next birth, which is significantly more high compared to women in the 25-year-old age group. -49, where the same amounts to 3.8 percent. Without access to family planning services and products, young couples and couples with one child are likely to have more multiple and unwanted pregnancies and children.

FP2030 mentions that it is a fundamental right of individuals (including young people) to decide freely and for themselves when and how many children to have and this is central to their vision and goals.

Our state’s experience puts into context the population, health and nutrition implications for the youthful population.

NFHS-5 data for the state shows that women in the 20-24 age group who married before age 18 fell from 21.1% (NFHS-4) to 15.8%. Similarly, men in the 25-29 age group, married before age 21, fell from 28.7% (NFHS-4) to 23.0%.

In addition, women in the 15-19 age group who were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey represent 2.9% (NFHS-5) against 3.8% (NFHS-4).

The teenage fertility rate for women in the 15-19 age group reflects a downward trend from 28 in NFHS-4 to 22 in NFHS-4.

NFHS-5 data indicates that 44% of young women in the age group 15-24 have a mobile phone that they use themselves and 16.8% of women in the same age group have worked during of the last 12 months.

The survey data obviously perpetuates a gradual cycle of stable population growth and economic development.

Uttar Pradesh has taken several steps to turn the demographic dividend into a huge advantage and public officials have been key influencers.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to provide family planning services with a focus on young couples. New injection and spacing methods have been rolled out, supply of free kit – Shagun Kit – is distributed to newlywed couples, celebration of monthly Khushaal Parivar Diwas, weekly Antara Diwas, rebranding of VHND in Chaya VHND, Saas-Bahu Sammellan in Saas-Beta-Bahu Sammellan, and introduction of a state-level “Mr Smart Campaign” to promote male engagement and address gender dynamics within couples to increase the use of family planning services in the state.

Marital communication and family planning are closely linked because the dominance of the husband in family planning decision-making gives way not only to joint decision-making, but also to an increase in women’s decision-making power.

When addressing the issues of young couples, it becomes crucial to focus on the links between sexual and reproductive health and rights and family planning. Access to affordable family planning services encompasses the area of ​​sexuality and contraception.

Certain barriers prevent the young population from accessing these services, such as existing cultural and social norms, gender dynamics, privacy and confidentiality. By addressing these critical issues and life skills education in schools, we have ensured that the community plays a key role in the uptake of these services and acts as a facilitating factor.

Uttar Pradesh, whose young people make up about 25% of the total population, will reap rich dividends through innovative, community-driven programs in sexual and reproductive health and family planning services. These measures will improve educational, financial and social status through effective development initiatives.

Dr. Renu Srivastava Verma is the Director General of Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Uttar Pradesh.

(Disclaimer: the opinions expressed above are those of the author)

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