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Brampton resident advocates for sexual and reproductive health and women’s rights globally and at home

Brampton resident Durdana Choudry, just returned from championing women’s rights in Ghana, and in light of International Youth Day, is advocating for improved access to sexual and reproductive health care in developing countries and at home. 

As part of Plan International’s Change the Birth Story campaign, Choudry, 19, and nine other youth advocates spent a week in Ghana with local young advocates exchanging ideas and strategies to create change and empower young people to achieve gender equality. 

Choudry’s role focuses primarily on maternal and newborn home life as well as sexual and reproductive health

“For example, we went and sat in on something called a daddy’s club where we had the fathers of these families come together and discuss how they can better support their wives and children,” Choudry said.

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What they witnessed, she says, was the whole community coming together to support mothers and newborn children. 

“It was amazing,” she said. “That’s been an issue in the past in these communities.”

Another project Choudry described was the village savings and loans association. In that partnership they witnessed community members support each other financially. 

“A lot of the people in that space were women helping women, taking charge and having that financial independence,” she said.

According to Plan International, 99 per cent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, 2 million girls under the age of 15 become pregnant every year, and nearly 2.7 million newborn babies die each year due to barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care. These barriers include recognition of complications and capacity to seek care, transportation to care, and receiving appropriate skilled care. 

When Choudry first started working at Plan International a year and a half ago, she admits she didn’t know much about the problem. 

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