Sat. Dec 7th, 2019

Young Leaders from Pakistan visiting USA as ‘RiseUp Fellows’

L-R: Sarmad Soomar, Ehsamullah Baig, Anmol Zahra, Qaisar Roonjha


By Sarmad Soomar

Reproductive Justice has been a huge struggle with time in countries like Pakistan. It is essential that we start sorting out strategies to create a better society for future which has a lot of scope for reproductive justice. The biggest challenge is exclusion of youth and that will ultimately never facilitate improvement. For that purpose it is very necessary that leadership should be in hands of young people and their inclusion should be mandatory in order to develop policies and protocols. Majority of the country’s population is youth and it is very devastating to see that young people are unemployed, have mental health issues and suffering from daily routine problems relating to their sexuality. In this problematic situation our young leaders are striving to bring change and connect with other leaders as well to sustain the ultimate strategies and programs for transformation. This is not only personal transformation or of their families but their huge contribution brings change at a larger level where community is also involved.

The write-up shares details about few of those young people from different parts of the country who are striving for reproductive justice through their work and programs. Mentioning few just never justifies that other people are not contributing to reproductive justice and sexuality related rights but this connects those few young leaders in the list of youth fellow of an international program.

Recently, these four young people from Pakistan’s different parts traveled to USA ‘s state California in order to attend a significant program of sexual and reproductive health rights and justice (SRHRJ) by RiseUP of Public Health institute California supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The program was a one week extensive learning experience as a mini fellowship where these young leaders strength their own leadership skills along with understanding concepts of SRHRJ and learning challenges and opportunities from the contexts of India, Ethiopia, USA and Rwanada as well. The program design was based on sessions, panels, exercises, travel, site visits and other extra ordinary leaders under internationally renowned facilitators

Following are the Bios of these young people to know them more and connect with them in Pakistan to develop more youth friendly opportunities so that our country has a better future and youth friendly environment.

Anmol Zehra, Karachi – Sindh

Since 2017, Anmol has served as the Lead Facilitator for Menstrual Hygiene Management Project with UNICEF and Training and Development Consultant at doctHERs, a digital health platform that matches the underutilized capacity of female doctors to the unmet needs of health consumers. As a medical doctor, Anmol wants to connect other women who are doctors to rural communities who do not have SRHR access.

Ehsamullah Baig, Gojal – Hunza Valley

Ehsam is the founder and CEO of Pakistan Innovation Summit for Education, which works with peer educators in the realms of education, health, and social development. Ehsam is working to shift the focus of Pakistan’s public health education towards including family planning and policies, and education on abortion.

Qaiser Roonjha, Lasbela – Balochistan

Qaisar is the founder and director of Welfare Association for New Generation (WANG), a youth led organization focused on engaging youth in community organizing. Qaisar is passionate in linking solutions between rural communities and modern technology for SRHR. He is currently pursuing masters in international sustainable development from USA.

Sarmad Muhammad Soomar, Hyderabad – Sindh

Sarmad Muhammad Soomar is a licensed Registered Nurse, and currently works under domain of Research at the Dept. of Psychiatry in Aga Khan University, Pakistan. Sarmad is passionate about integrating human sexuality into healthcare curriculum. He has rich experience in terms of working on SRHRJ advocacy and project implementation in communities all over Pakistan. He is working for inclusion and justice in sexual health and rights as well, by working with gender diverse people, adolescents, refugees, disabled people and men. Sarmad is also a youth champion of Asia Safe Abortion Partnership and Global Youth Video contest winner for ICFP 2018. Sarmad looks forward to developing better opportunities for mentorship, leadership and educational programs for young people in Pakistan. He involves innovative ideas in his work, including play therapy, laughter yoga, dance, and digital games.

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