Pathfinder's Young Advocates Show Collective Action Can Create Real Impact

Annie Stuart, a Young Advocate for Pathfinder International, gave the opening remarks at the group’s second annual silent art auction in June 2013.

For Jessie Jenkins, a trip to Ethiopia, where she had the opportunity to visit one of Pathfinder International’s projects, meant a fresh perspective on reproductive health. As an activist for reproductive rights, she always understood the importance of this compelling cause, but seeing women being empowered firsthand stuck with her.

“The emphasis is so much on family at Pathfinder,” she said. “In Ethiopia they were so proud of their community resources and took pride in providing their mothers and wives with those resources.”

This led her to join the Young Advocates for Pathfinder, a group started in New York City that has been dedicated to engaging and mobilizing their peers into action since 2009. Not only does this group of young professionals raise awareness about the work Pathfinder does, but they also emphasize the overall importance of sexual and reproductive health.

The group has served as a way for a younger generation to get involved and make a difference. In April 2012, its members organized a silent art auction, raising an unprecedented $5,000 and contributing to Pathfinder’s global efforts to provide critical reproductive health services around the globe. Motivated by the enthusiastic response from the auction, they plan to throw another one in 2013.

Jenkins’ friend, Katherine Keltner, felt the need to join the Young Advocates after enduring a difficult pregnancy. She realized not everyone has access to the professional care she had when giving birth.

“I had so much care and felt so lucky,” said the mother of a healthy three-year-old daughter. “The amount of time it takes to have a child is unbelievable. It’s radically life-changing and there are women who can barely make ends meet. That’s what sent Pathfinder’s message home to me.”

The impact of many coming together creates powerful change that can make all of the difference for someone halfway around the world. Empowering women in developing countries to take charge of their sexual and reproductive health can seem like an overwhelming challenge for one individual. But the impact of many coming together creates powerful change that can make all of the difference for someone halfway around the world.

“We would really like to help more people in our generations learn about Pathfinder’s work,” said Keltner. “It is so fundamental to significant issues we face today such as poverty, which cannot be addressed until families have control over when and how many children they can support, and dangerous conditions for women pre, during and post-childbirth.”

There are so many reasons to take a stand for reproductive health and a variety of easy, yet impactful ways to do so. You can become an ambassador to Pathfinder simply by raising awareness through sharing our work and stories on Twitter and Facebook. You can learn about opportunities to advocate for peoples’ rights by joining our advocacy network. You can start a Young Advocates for Pathfinder chapter in your own city or host your own fundraiser. You can make a gift of support by donating.

Regardless of how, what’s most important is that you take action. By joining together, we can create invaluable impact for those who need it most.

Stacey Perlman

Stacey Perlman

Stacey Perlman is Pathfinder International's Development Coordinator.

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