WHITE RIBBON ALLIANCE: Jemie's Story: Fighting For Change During COVID and beyond
My name is Jemie Shrestha and I am a Youth Advocate from a small town in the Palpa district of Nepal.
When I first volunteered for White Ribbon Alliance at 16 years old, I was surprised and saddened to see how poor the reproductive health conditions were for women and young girls in my community. So many women and girls could not access quality healthcare locally, or at all.
White Ribbon Alliance’s global platform for youth has given me, and countless other young advocates, the opportunity to give voice to the demand for sexual and reproductive health rights.
As a White Ribbon Alliance Youth Representative, I have represented my country at the World Health Organization’s World Health Assembly in Geneva. The honor of speaking for the boys and girls of Nepal, and the ability to directly question the health representative from Nepal at a global meeting about how they plan to listen to women and girls when making healthcare decisions in the future, continues to stay with me and drive my advocacy efforts.
I have seen the impact the Safe Motherhood Network Federation, White Ribbon Alliance’s national affiliate in Nepal, has had on the lives of the women in my country, and I am dedicated to working for the betterment of all women, all around the world, to ensure their reproductive health rights through the White Ribbon Alliance movement.
Because of White Ribbon Alliance, I know that, by playing my part for reproductive and maternal healthcare and advocating for the sexual and reproductive health rights of every young girl and boy in my community, I can contribute to long-lasting changes not just in Nepal, but across the world.
I have never been prouder of the work done by White Ribbon Alliance in Nepal than during our recent COVID-19 troubles when major hospitals across Nepal were converted into designated COVID-19 centers. Among the reassigned facilities was Seti Province Hospital – the second largest provider of maternity services in the country. Vital maternal and reproductive health services including abortion, contraception, antenatal and postnatal care were immediately stopped, with no defined timeline for reinstatement.
White Ribbon Alliance Nepal and partners advocated to the government to protect reproductive and maternal health services and create an enabling environment for women and girls to receive safe, quality, affordable, accessible and dignified services.
After heated advocacy efforts, not only did Seti Province Hospital resume all basic health services, including maternal and reproductive health, but sexual, reproductive and maternal health services were deemed essential by Government in Nepal amid COVID-19, ensuring that women and girls across Nepal would be protected throughout the pandemic.