Name: David Lawrence
Country: Great Britain
Country: Great Britain
Over the past 6 years I have been incredibly fortunate to gain a wealth of experience, expertise and fantastic friends all over the world, solely by volunteering in the field of SRHR.
I’d always grown up loving volunteering and knowing that I wanted to become a doctor. When I finally started medical school in 2006, I wanted to continue volunteering in something that was both medical but also had a big social element. It was no surprise that I was instantly drawn to my university’s local peer-education programme that taught students about all aspects of sexual and reproductive health. As I fell in love with this volunteering post I became more and more involved, setting up a different group that taught CSE to secondary school students in the local area. Soon I became the National Coordinator of a group called Sexpression that did this all over the UK, representing over 1,000 student doctors who all felt passionate about young people’s SRHR.
This involvement in such a large and vibrant network introduced me to the wider, global reality of SRHR. I was able to appreciate the wonders and shortcomings of my home country and see the lived realities of my peers in the UK compared to those from all over the world. This knowledge fuelled my passion further and took me around the world, working with young people from a multitude of cultures to empower them to achieve their SRHR.
Such exposure coupled with a lot of reading about the determinants of health, and SRHR in particular, taught me so much about how an individual can be a facilitator for change, how groups can work together to achieve something they believe in and ultimately, how to be an SRHR activist. Colleagues far more worldly and experienced than I taught me so much and have helped shape me to be the activist that I am continuously becoming overtime.
Activism for me is a big term: it covers so much. I’ve been an activist most regularly at the local level, working with small groups of people trying to facilitate change in communities but I’ve also had the fortune to see how large-scale activism works at events such as the International AIDS Conference and the United Nations Commission on Population and Development. Most impressively, at these large, political events, I have seen how young people are increasingly being involved in decision-making processes, their voices becoming louder and perceived as more legitimate than ever before. Full and meaningful participation is not exactly where we are at but I believe that if young people keep on making enough noise then we shall not be ignored for much longer.
The more I understood about activism and how effective advocacy can positively impact on individuals, groups and societies, the more opportunities I have to discover that I am most definitely not the only one! There are so, so, so many young people across the globe who are as passionate as I am, and they are some of the best people to work with: when young people who share a vision are brought together, the successes we can achieve are vast and inspiring. I am honoured to be selected as a Young Face under 30 for the 10 Days of Activism (10DoA), but I just hope that my testimony can also speak for the multitude of other young people I represent and who work even harder than I do. As I begin my career as a doctor and my time is increasingly dominated by my clinical work, I implore young people who are thinking of getting involved in SRHR activism to go ahead and do it: the support is infinite, the personal development is unbelievable and the impact you can have is life changing. Together, young people can do it!