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From Innovation to Action: Empowering Voices for Sexual and Reproductive Health  

by Cynthia Makena, Linking, Learning and Amplifier Officer, Voice Kenya


Voice Grantee Partners with the Kenya Country Team
Voice grantee partners with the Voice Kenya country team


A low hum of anticipation filled Johari Hall at the Sarova Whitesands, Mombasa as Carol Ng’ang’a adjusted the microphone. On this day, Voice Programme, a program which we were all so passionate about was hosting a side event at the 7th Annual Scientific Conference on Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (AYSRHR). This conference was hosted by the Reproductive Health Network Kenya (RHNK). The Voice side event, titled “Unlocking Potential: Innovate, Collaborate, Accelerate AYSRHR,” underscored the critical role AYSRHR plays in Africa’s development. It provided a valuable platform for Voice grantee partners to showcase their work and their innovative approaches.

The grantee partners and Voice Kenya Program Manager sat at a panel before a diverse crowd – healthcare workers, government officials, non-government organisations, and young activists, all united by a common goal: empowering adolescents and youth with sexual and reproductive health rights.

The stage lights flickered on, revealing five women, all a part of the Voice Programme, each radiating a quiet strength.  Carol Ng’ang’a, founder of Msingi Trust, a seasoned moderator, led the four panelists in the discussions.

Gloria Njoki, founder of Deaf Outreach Program, expounded her innovation which is breaking down barriers for the Deaf community with a sign-language SRHR app, SRHR videos for Deaf schools and educational content. Next, Nancy Nyaleso, the founder of Empower HER, took the stage. Her voice, bright and full of energy, described the innovative “Save Now, Pay Later” platform that provided girls with sanitary products and dignity. Her story was a testament to the power of small solutions tackling big issues.

Joy Ogingo, the director at Health and Economic Development Strategy Organisation, with a calm confidence, she shared her organisation’s peer-to-peer approach to reaching young people in remote areas. Her tale resonated – a reminder that community engagement was the bedrock of sustainable change. Closing on the panelist was Diana Moreka, a seasoned SRHR specialist and the Voice Kenya Program Manager, shared her thoughts on the current state of funding for SRHR interventions, and on how Voice supports the unique challenges related to SRHR advocacy, innovations and movement-building.


Voice partners and country Program Manager at the Annual Reproductive Health Network Conference
Voice partners and country Program Manager at the Annual Reproductive Health Network Conference


I watched as the panelists engaged in a lively discussion, their stories weaving a tapestry of innovation, collaboration and inclusion. They spoke of the challenges – the lack of funding, the deep-rooted stigma, the cultural barriers. Yet, their voices resonated with a powerful message – that with collective action, no one would be left behind.

The Q&A session buzzed with questions and shared experiences. A young activist from a rural community spoke of her struggle to access basic SRHR information. A doctor shared his frustration with outdated policies hindering progress. Each voice, a thread in the fabric of change.

As the final remarks were delivered, a sense of renewed purpose filled the room. The audience, inspired by the stories of the grantee partners, dispersed carrying the torch of AYSRHR advocacy. The event may be over, but the fight for a future where every youth have the knowledge and resources to make informed choices about their bodies had just begun. The whispers of change had become a collective roar, echoing through the halls and beyond, a testament to the power of collaboration to unlock potential and accelerate progress.


Reflecting on my experience at the RHNK Conference and my participation in a panel, I found it to be incredibly educational. The organizers made a commendable effort to include at least one youth representative in most of the high-level panels, which I found very impactful. Two key takeaways for me were the significance of movement building and the power of crowdfunding. Additionally, I was impressed by the various innovative solutions that young people are developing to address SRH issues, highlighting the need to amplify these efforts.” – Joy Ogingo, Director, Health and Economic Development Strategy Organisation


As a young leader of a youth-serving organisation, I had the opportunity to speak about the key issues we face in providing reproductive health services and to propose potential solutions. During the Hivos side event on innovations and collaboration in advancing AYSRHR, I presented our Menstrual Health Digital Wallet—an intervention sponsored by Voice aimed at improving SRHR for adolescent girls and young women. I also learned about other organizations’ best practices in this area. Reflecting on the #RHNK2024 conference, my key takeaways are: young people’s SRH needs are diverse, requiring tailored services, A one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective young people’s involvement in developing, implementing, evaluating, and advocating for AYSRHR initiatives is crucial for improving the effectiveness of SRH interventions, and Community-led innovations are effective, and funders should prioritize investing in them.” – Nancy Nyaleso, Founder of Empower HER Initiative


Voice grantee partner discussing a potential collaboration with a delegate at the conference
Voice grantee partner discussing a potential collaboration with a delegate at the conference


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