120 under 40DSW has been working for 25 years to encourage a generation of young people in East Africa to become leaders in their communities, fighting for better access and education around family planning and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It makes us hugely proud, then, when one of our colleagues working in the region is selected as a global youth champion for family planning! Congrats then, to our project officer Phionah Fortunate Naigaga, who has been chosen as one of the “120 under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders”!

120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders recognizes and highlights the achievements of the next generation of family planning leaders worldwide. It is led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with support from Bayer. 120 Under 40 supports World Contraception Day, an annual event organized by Bayer that draws attention to contraception, especially young people’s need to access contraceptive and reproductive health information, services and supplies. As a partner for World Contraception Day, we are delighted that the work of someone who is working hard to support and educate young people in Uganda has been recognised.

120 under 40 Phionah

Phionah speaking in Brussels for EU Girls Week 2015

The next 120 under 40 leader – Phionah, DSW Uganda

Phionah is a Project Officer working with our country office in Uganda.  As part of our GeNext Uganda “My Life, My Future” project – which is supported by Bayer – she works with young people aged 10-24 years, creating awareness about and promoting family planning knowledge and practices. The project has built a network of 302 active and skilled youth champions supporting sexual and reproductive health and family planning information and education campaigns, linked to World Contraception Day objectives and messages. You can find out more about the project on our website, here.

120 under 40 – recognising family planning leaders

We are living with the largest generation of you people in history, and family planning will be vital to allow them to decide when, with whom, and how many children they would like to have. When people can plan the number and timing of their pregnancies, they are better able to ensure their families’ security, education, and well-being. Even now, in 2016, that is still not the case. In low- and middle-income countries, over 220 million women who don’t want to get pregnant face barriers to contraceptive access and information about family planning.

Modern contraceptive use is quite low, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa—where less than one-fifth of women use modern methods—and South Asia, where about one-third of women use modern methods. In 2012, approximately 80 million women in low- and middle-income countries experienced an unplanned pregnancy; of those women, more than one-quarter obtained an unsafe abortion.

Why is family planning important?

DSW work hard across its projects in eastern Africa to make sure that young men and women are empowered to be able to access the kind of services and health information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. We work locally, nationally and internationally to convince leaders at all levels of the benefit not only to young people but to the wider society and economy, of the importance of family planning.

For example, for every dollar that governments spend on family planning education and services, approximately 6 dollars is saved. These savings from investment in family planning can be used to improve community needs like housing, health, and water. Reaching the goal of universal access to family planning by 2030 and meeting all women’s needs for modern contraception by 2040 could lead to savings of 120 dollars for every dollar invested.

120 under 40 GeNext

GeNext youth outreach in Uganda

What is 120 under 40?

120 Under 40 is a new initiative that recognizes and highlights the achievements of the next generation of family planning leaders worldwide. 120 Under 40 is led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with support from Bayer. The project launched on World Contraception Day 2015 (September 26), an annual event organized by Bayer that puts international attention on enabling young people to make informed decisions about family planning and reproductive health. 120 Under 40 is a supporter of World Contraception Day.

The nominations period for the 2016 competition opened January 2016 and closed May 22. Nominees must have been 40 years old or younger by December 31, 2016, and must have made significant contributions to family planning internationally or in-country.You can read the profiles of the nominees, and the other winners, on the120 under 40 website.

What next for 120 under 40?

The winners for 2016 were chosen through online public voting, scoring by a jury of experts and leaders in family planning, and the project secretariat. Online public voting and jury review of all complete nominee profiles took place June 27 to July 11. The winners will be publicly announced on Tuesday, September 13. Each of the 40 winners will receive $1,000 from the Gates Institute, to continue their work in family planning.

A smaller representative group of winners will attend special celebrations in Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City from September 21 to 23. While they are here in the United States, these winners will also receive training in advocacy and leadership, attend meetings with influential leaders, and share personal stories about their passion for and commitment to family planning.

Year 1 of 120 Under 40 will conclude on World Contraception Day, September 26. The process will repeat in 2017 and 2019, so that a roster of 120 outstanding young leaders will be assembled by 2020 — the year by which the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to enable 120 million additional women and girls to access life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies.