Amplifying Voices: 5 Minutes With Damilare Oyedele

Good to have you talk to us, and welcome to The PACT interview series: can you tell us about yourself, maybe the ones we do not know yet.
It is nice to be here. Thank you The PACT for inviting me for this interview series. A little about myself— I once wanted to be a professional footballer, I used to play as a right full back. But, I found my passion as a library advocate. I don’t like noise. I guess one of the major reasons why I don’t like going to the market. (Laughs)

Why are you passionate about HIV, SRHR? How did the passion spring up?
This question brought a flashback to when I was still in my parent’s house.  Issues around sexual and reproductive health were not discussed. I lacked knowledge about my sexual and reproductive health. My premier encounter with information and sensitization about sexual and reproductive health began when I was 17 years old in a higher institution among my peers and friends. I soon cultivated the habit of attending health talk programs organized by serving corps members that come around to lecture and educate us on these issues. I can recall that I received my first contraceptives attending one of the sessions at the age of 18. For the first time in my life, I was free to discuss issues that pertain to my sexual health, overcoming anxiety, and the hormones as a young person. This over the years has formed the basis of my knowledge and guide to make informed choices and decisions that pertains to my sexual reproductive health. As a young person myself, my personal story has been a motivation for meaningful youth engagement in SRHR advocacy and programming. 

Why did you join The PACT?
So, I joined The PACT with the sole aim to contribute meaningfully and actively to advance its quest in creating a space for young people and their networks to meet, network and chart a pathway to end AIDS by 2030. Furthermore, I plan to seize the opportunity to strategically position the need to promote and provide equitable access to information and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health to young people. 

What motivates you to keep pushing and working for the benefit of young people?
As a young person myself, I have learnt to understand that growth is essential, and investment in young people is critical for the development of our community. This has identified a more strategic need to drive sustainable development in all ramifications. It is essential for us to facilitate innovative approaches and youth co-leadership— hence part of the major reasons why I keep pushing and working for the benefit of young people. In this context, if we are to end AIDS by 2030, we need to prioritize young people in advocacy and programming—from planning to implementation and Monitoring & Evaluation. You know, ‘Nothing for us without us’

What are your hopes for the future of the youth HIV movement?
A couple of weeks ago, I was at the African Youth SDGs summit in Accra Ghana where I had conversations with fellow young people in the global HIV movement. I was happy at the commitment, dedication and clear foresight fellow young people have towards the HIV movement on the African continent.
This further affirms my hopes for the future of the youth HIV movement which is to improve programming, capacity development and advocacy that will drive progress towards our committed efforts in ending AIDS by 2030. 

More so, creating an enabling environment for young people and inclusion of young people and youth led organisations in HIV global response. Most importantly, to promote and provide equitable access to information and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health to young people. As i said earlier, ‘Nothing for us without us’

What would be your message to young people all over the world working to end AIDS by 2030?
​My message to young people is that we need to continue our relentless efforts in driving progress towards ending AIDS by 2030. We should explore new frontiers of knowledge and strategic partnerships and collaboration that will drive capacity development, advocacy, programming and equitable access to information and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health for young people.  

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