Rawan Masri is a new Why We Care Youth Champion, and winner of the Essay Category in the Why We Care Youth Contest. She is from Alta Loma, California, and is studying Social and Behavioral Sciences at Citrus College.
I nervously look around the waiting room. The television is on in the background, and I can hear a woman listing the advantages and side effects of various forms of birth control. “Planned Parenthood wants you to have reproductive self-determination, regardless of your race, age…” Suddenly, I felt less nervous, and instead proud of myself for taking control of my body and my health. I walked 10 miles from my school to my local Planned Parenthood clinic that day. My parents are religiously strict, and so I had to take matters into my own hands in terms of making the choice I felt was best for me. Still, I knew then as I know now that I am exceedingly lucky compared to most girls around the world.
Today, 800 girls die every day from unplanned pregnancies. Those who survive childbirth are less likely to continue their education or raise their standards of living above that of poverty. Modern contraceptives can reduce the cost of recommended standard of care from $7 8 billion to $2 7 billion. As shown by the World Health Organization’s World Health Statistics Report, access to contraceptives is directly proportional to higher literacy rates and lowered risk of STDs.
As I write this, I remember to press a place in my forearm. My implant is still there, as well as the guarantee that I am free to continue pursuing my education and my future, something I cannot take for granted when so many other girls do not share this fundamental human right. As a feminist and a global citizen, I know it is my duty to ensure girls everywhere are in control of their bodies so that they can uplift their communities and pursue the healthy, educated and economically independent life that I am able to.
Rawan Masri, an 18-year-old student from Alta Loma, California, submitted the winning written piece. “I am so grateful to have the rights to my body and my reproductive choices, and it is my hope to inspire other youth to encourage and influence United Nations global policy towards STD and unwanted pregnancy prevention and against unsafe labor, early marriage, and low literacy/graduation rates. When enough people, especially youth, become aware and get involved, the world really does start to change,” she said. Rawan is currently pursuing her Associate’s Degree at Citrus College in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and hopes to transfer to the University of Southern California to pursue international relations.