UN Foundation, Planned Parenthood Federation of America & Sierra Club Launch Why We Care Youth to Amplify Young Voices on Critical Importance of International Reproductive Health and Contraception

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First-ever contest gives emerging leaders a platform to share their personal stories about reproductive health and rights as part of growing movement.

No matter where you live, if you can’t plan your family, you can’t plan your life.

The United Nations Foundation’s Universal Access Project, in partnership with Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sierra Club, announced the first-ever Why We Care Youth contest today. Why We Care Youth serves as a platform for young people living in the U.S. to share what access to reproductive health and contraception has personally meant to them, and why U.S. policymakers should care about expanding access around the world.

Young people aged 18-25 can share their story and enter the contest in three ways: through a brief written piece, through a photo essay, or through a short video. Winning entries will be chosen in each category, and the three winners will get to attend events around the UN General Assembly in New York. Participants can submit entries through http://www.universalaccessproject.org until August 17th. Winners will be announced on August 25th.

There are few decisions more personal – or more critical – than whether or when to have a child. But for some, it’s not a decision at all. In the U.S., attacks on access to contraception have made headlines. And around the world, there are approximately 225 million girls and women who want to delay pregnancy, but aren’t using modern contraceptives. Unintended pregnancies can result in girls dropping out of school, being unable to pursue an income, and in some cases, facing complications that result in long-term disability or even death.

But with increased funding from the U.S. and other donors, we have the power to change this reality for girls and women. Fortunately, there is growing momentum around this issue, as leaders around the world – including young people – speak out on the critical importance of contraception to their own lives and to other pressing global development issues.

“We have heard over and over from young Americans that access to family planning matters to them – and they believe it should be a universal right for all. Everyone has a different reason for caring about family planning, but one thing is clear: No matter where you live, if you can’t plan your family, you can’t plan your life. That’s why it’s important that we launch this contest, so that young people can share their own stories, and raise their voices for the needs and rights of individuals around the world,” said Seema Jalan, Senior Director of the UN Foundation’s Universal Access Project.

"Young people today recognize that being able to decide whether and when to have children is one of the single greatest factors in their ability to get an education, stay in school, and pursue a career," said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "Yet attacks on access continue, at home and abroad. Why We Care Youth is a powerful platform for young people -- the largest generation ever -- to share what access to reproductive health and contraception has meant to them, and why U.S. policymakers should care about not only ensuring access to birth control in the U.S., but expanding access around the world."

“Healthy people and a healthy planet go hand in hand. To guarantee both, we must ensure that women are educated, empowered, and have the tools they need to plan their families. A woman's level of access to affordable contraceptives is innately tied to her ability to adapt to a changing climate, the opportunity to attend school impacts community resource management and economic vitality. That’s why this contest is so important. By raising our voices for women around the world, we can help make life better and safer for all women and we can help our planet, too” said A. Tianna Scozzaro, Director of the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program.

For more information, and to view sample entries and full contest rules and regulations, please visit http://www.universalaccessproject.org.

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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 http://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 nearly 750 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve 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. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

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Katherine Brandon
United Nations Foundation
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