The Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health recently announced Rakibul Hasan as the 2016 winner of 120 Under 40 award.
The Gates Institute announced the new generation of Family Planning leaders on September 13, 2016.
Receiving the highest number of votes in the world, Rakibul puts the campaign on top of the list to receive this prestigious award on behalf of thousands of young people from Bangladesh and all across the world.
“I am grateful to everyone who voted, shared and campaigned online. Scores of countries and cultures are failing to protect the opportunities of girls in the way they do for boys. But girls who are married younger, stay at home earlier, can’t go to school all end up with the burdens of illiteracy, poverty, illness and, ultimately, powerlessness. We need to start with education, we all know it transforms lives, families, communities, countries and the world as well,” he adds.
The statistics regarding early forced marriages and violence against women provide a clear understanding of how much it costs to be girls and women in Bangladeshi society. About 66 per cent of girls are married off at around the age of 18. 60 per cent of brides bear their first child at 19 and ten per cent of them get pregnant at 15 years of age. Recently, the government has been considering reducing the marriage age to 16 years. These are some of the disastrous statistics that continue to affecting family planning practices in Bangladesh.
Contraceptives are certainly a big factor in family planning practices. Only 28 per cent Bangladeshi women and three per cent of males use contraceptives, and there exists a social stigma in openly talking about its use. Thus Peacempire, a project founded by Rakibul, aims at breaking taboos of contraceptives against traditional religious superstitions and to create a generation of young Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) advocates in Bangladesh.
Led by the Gates Institute with support from Bayer, 120 Under 40 recognises and highlights the achievements of the next generation of family planning leaders worldwide. Over the course of this multi-year project, a number of 120 young family planning champions will be highlighted, 40 in each of the three project years.
This year’s 40 winners are journalists, medical doctors and service providers, advocates, researchers, and founders of nonprofits. They work all over the world—in clinics and universities, in offices, and in the field—to advance family planning and reproductive health.
The 40 winners for 2016 were chosen through public online voting, scoring by a jury of experts and leaders in family planning, and the project secretariat. The winners each receive $1,000 from the Gates Institute to continue their work in family planning.
“We were thrilled by the caliber of the nominees in this first year of 120 Under 40, and these 40 winners are truly an outstanding group,” says Jose “Oying” Rimon II, Director of the Gates Institute and chair of the 120 Under 40 Jury. “With these young leaders at the helm, the family planning movement and its commitment to protecting health and saving lives are in excellent hands.”
A smaller representative group of winners, including Rakibul, were invited to attend the 120 Under 40 celebrations in the United States from September 21 to 23, 2016. These celebrations, which coincided the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, included training in advocacy and leadership, meetings with influential leaders, and opportunities for the winners to share personal stories about their passion for family planning and reproductive health. The activities were co-hosted in Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City by the Gates Institute, Bayer, Population Council and the FP2020 partnership.
Year 1 of 120 Under 40 officially concluded on World Contraception Day, September 26, an annual day of observance organised by Bayer to focus international attention on contraception, especially young people’s need to access contraceptive and reproductive health information, services and supplies.