By Enalla Mnyenyembe
Two Malawian women have been nominated for the 120 under-40 Leadership Program of 2019 which is under Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health
The two, Elina Mwasinga who is Coordinator for the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) in Malawi and Tikondwe Chimkowola who works with Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Africa Trust, were nominated through online voting.
In an interview, Mwasinga said she was excited to have been recognized by and associated with brilliant family planning leaders worldwide.
“The nomination is a step closer to winning in the Gates 120 Under 40 Leadership Program which recognizes a generation of family planning leaders, I am thrilled and patiently waiting for the results,” said Mwasinga.
If they win, the two Malawian lady nominees will be amongst 40 winners who will each receive $1000 (about K780, 000) from the institute.
The money will be given to them to either continue with their family planning initiatives work or invest in new innovative projects.
Mwasinga said if she wins the money, she will embark on Enhancement and Inclusion of Youth with Disabilities in promoting SRHR through IYAFP.
“I plan to use the money to upscale family planning interventions in empowering youth with disabilities with SRHR information and knowledge for them to become agents of change,” she said.
She added that it is important that young people make informed decisions about their health and are involved in family planning initiatives to contribute to the reduction of early marriages and unwanted pregnancies in the country.
Commenting on the development, Chimkowola said she was excited for being nominated. She said that is an indication that her work is being noticed and appreciated by an international audience.
“The final jury round results will be out in September, but the fact that someone noticed my work and deemed it worthy of a nomination, it is very exciting to me,” Chimkowola.
She said that if she wins the money, she would embark on the establishment of youth clubs in health facilities, saying they are the institutions where the youth get legitimate information and professional services.
“I will also embark on training young people in advocacy as a priority because it is high time the youth understand, act and have a say on sexual reproductive health rights,” she added.
The Gates Institute recognizes and highlights achievements of the next generation of family planning leaders worldwide annually.
It targets young family planning champions who are 40 years or younger and must have significantly made contributions to family planning initiatives at local, national or international level.
The 120 Under 40 Leadership Program was launched in September, 2015 during World Contraception Day and it is an annual event that focuses on international attention on enabling young people to be making informed decisions on issues of family planning and reproductive health.