The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project, in partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sierra Club, announced the winners of the first-ever Why We Care Youth: Emerging Leaders for Reproductive Rights contest today. Why We Care Youth serves as a platform for young people, aged 18-25, living in the U.S. to raise their voice and spark change globally. Young leaders shared powerful personal stories about what access to reproductive health and contraception has meant in their own lives, and why U.S. policy makers should care about expanding access around the world.
The winners will have an opportunity to share their stories and learn more about reproductive health and global development through a trip to New York City around the United Nations General Assembly later this month. Winning entries were chosen in three categories: a short video, photo essay, and written essay.
Ariel Wood, the winner of the video contest, is a 20-year-old college student from Bellingham, Washington. She attends Pacific Lutheran University, where she is majoring in French and global studies. “Quality reproductive health care has made all the difference when it comes to my education and future career goals. By sharing my perspective, I hope to continue the conversation around reproductive health as a human right, and show policy makers that universal access to these rights must be a priority,” she said.
The winning photo essay was submitted by Nivedha Kannapadi, a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia. “Inspired by the powerful and tragic stories of reproductive health inequality worldwide, I hope to motivate other young people to care about this important issue and to become change-makers in this field,” Nivedha said. “I am extremely passionate about transforming reproductive awareness from an obstacle to a right for women across the globe. As a WWC Youth winner, I am very excited about sharing my passion and meeting individuals who are working to make a difference in reproductive health care,” she said. Nivedha is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is currently majoring in neuroscience.
Rawan Masri, an 18-year-old student from Alta Loma, California, submitted the winning written piece. “I am so grateful to have the rights to my body and my reproductive choices, and it is my hope to inspire other youth to encourage and influence United Nations global policy toward STD and unwanted pregnancy prevention and against unsafe labor, early marriage, and low literacy/graduation rates. When enough people, especially youth, become aware and get involved, the world really does start to change,” she said. Rawan is currently pursuing her associate’s degree at Citrus College in social and behavioral sciences, and hopes to transfer to the University of Southern California to pursue international relations.
For more information, and to view all of the winning entries and runners-up, please visit www.universalaccessproject.org.
About The United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org.
About Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood serves all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.
For more than 40 years, Planned Parenthood Global, the international arm of PPFA, has been working overseas to ensure that women, men, and young people in some of the world’s most neglected areas have access to the health care they need to control their bodies and their futures. By partnering with local advocates, medical service providers, and youth leaders and helping to build sustainable networks and organizations, we find innovative ways to deliver critical services and fight for more inclusive laws and policies.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action.
The Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program recognizes that gender equality and the health of our environment are inextricably connected. Access to reproductive health care and voluntary family planning combined with education and economic opportunity, lifts up women around the world and benefits our planet, too. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.