The keke float parade was an advocacy road show on family planning as part of the Family Planning Week to promote public awareness on achieving reproductive rights for all and in the process facilitate development in the country.
Addressing various stakeholders at the UNFPA headquarters, the UNFPA Country Representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Kim Dickson enlightened that recognizing family planning as a human right goes as far back as May 1968, 50 years ago at the International Conference on Human Rights in Teheran, Iran where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right informing that the Tehran Proclamation states, “parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
In his speech, the Minister of Youth Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Orman Bangura emphasized the need for family planning as a reliable tool for a brighter and secured future for young girls in the country.
The British High Commissioner in Sierra Leone, Mr. Gary Warrington said his government prioritizes family planning because it saves the lives of women and children and that it is also linked to the country’s economic development underscoring that if young girls cannot go to school, their economic opportunities would be limited revealing, “10% of girls get pregnant at age 15, a very frightening statistics.”
He further stressed that teenage pregnancy is a high risk than women who get pregnant at mature age disclosing, “more teenagers die while giving birth” and assured Sierra Leoneans that his government has pledged 150 million Pounds Sterling to the country’s healthcare system over the next 4-5 years intimating that family planning would be an integral part of his government’s development assistance package to Sierra Leone.
Family planning is the information, means and methods that allow individuals to decide if and when to have children. This includes a wide range of contraceptives–including pills, implants, intrauterine devices, surgical procedures that limit fertility, and barrier methods such as condoms–as well as non-invasive methods such as the calendar method and abstinence. Family planning also includes information about how to become pregnant when it is desirable, as well as treatment of infertility.
UNFPA supports many aspects of voluntary family planning, including procuring contraceptives, training health professionals to accurately and sensitively counsel individuals about their family planning options, and promoting comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
Various dignitaries, including the representatives of UNICEF, IOM, ADB, Irish Aid, midwives, the media and keke riders processed through the main streets of Freetown disseminating key messages on family planning and the use of contraceptives as well as assuring young girls, pregnant women and children that family planning methods are safe and secured.
They also chanted slogans and danced to jingle music which underscored that family planning is key to development.
Highlights of the program were the distribution of condoms, information, and education and communication materials during which UNFPA visibility benchmark through advocacy was fully enhanced, a step forward to ensuring reproductive rights for all in Sierra Leone.