I want children in Burkina Faso to have the same options as children in the United States, and I know that respect for their sexual health and rights is an important part of their future well-being.
Richael is a college junior and a member of the International Youth Leadership Council.
I became involved in the youth sexual health and rights movement during high school. During my junior year, I became involved with a peer education group associated with the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. I noticed that although the number of pregnant girls at my high school in my small city was growing, the resistance to comprehensive sex education was also growing. I knew that this trend was continuing across the country, and was determined to reverse this way of thinking.
When I moved to Washington, DC for college, I knew that I would be facing a different battle than I did in high school. I began my first internship in the Adolescent Prevention Education Programs office at Children’s National Medical Center, where I learned firsthand about prevention efforts in the US city with the highest HIV infection rate. I expected people in this city to be open to sex education; however, I discovered that there is still resistance to comprehensive sex education, and that this education often comes too late for some teens. This discovery strengthened my desire to move from my now familiar field of peer education into advocacy efforts.
It is important for young people to advocate for sexual health and rights because if we do not step up and take action, there is no guarantee that anyone else will do it for us. I want to ensure that youth everywhere have the right to comprehensive sex education, and that their sexuality is respected. I am motivated to do the work that I do because I know that it is important and crucial for the success of my generation. I want my generation to build upon the successes of past generations; I want equal access to services for all people, and for young people to be educated enough to make their own choices. I want children in Burkina Faso to have the same options as children in the United States, and I know that respect for their sexual health and rights is an important part of their future well-being.