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YVYC illustration of young people


"It's so important in a crisis like COVID that nobody gets left behind."

In this interview series, young people from the Balkans describe how the pandemic affected their access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and how we can build a more youth-friendly future.

We spoke to young people from the Western Balkans about how their access to sexual and reproductive health and rights was affected by the COVID pandemic, and asked them about their vision for re-designing a more youth-friendly future in which young people can flourish. 

Timur is a 17-year-old from Bosnia and Herzegovina who works as a volunteer peer educator, supporting other young people to develop crucial life skills relating to SRHR*.


Timur, describe your experience of access to SRHR education, information and care before and during COVID. 

Before COVID, it was much easier to work on trainings and projects related to SRHR. Everything was done live and with the mutual interaction of participants and lecturers. Although we quickly adjusted during the pandemic, communication was difficult without live contact, but we successfully kept things going. As a peer educator and a young person, I had great access to information about SRHR. I knew who to turn to, but most other young people didn't. During COVID it was very difficult to find accurate information about SRHR.


Did anything change for the better during the pandemic in terms of access to SRHR? If so, has this continued since COVID is no longer an urgent crisis? 

Yes, the pandemic has allowed us to get to know online tools better, and this enables us to process some topics in a much more interesting way. We have continued to use some methods we discovered in the first phase of COVID because we saw that they were easier but also better or more interesting for the participants themselves. 


What was the biggest obstacle to your SRHR during the pandemic?

The biggest challenge for peer educators was how to reach young people to provide information about SRHR. But even for me as a young person it was very difficult to find information and to reach professionals in health centres who deal with SRHR. The next challenge was that most of the NGOs in my vicinity closed their open centers and youth centers. Before the pandemic, young people could find all relevant information in these places. Now, most youth centres are open again, though some are working at reduced capacity.


What lessons should governments and professionals who work with youth learn from the pandemic about how to look after young people’s health and wellbeing in a crisis?

I think it's important that authorities and health professionals learn how important it is to have a ready response to crisis situations. And how important it is that in situations like this, they "leave no one behind". They should focus even more on health and ensure the availability of services for vulnerable groups. The next thing that governments and health professionals could learn is that online tools are very important and can be useful.


What is your number 1 recommendation on what is needed to make services more youth-friendly? What difference would this make in the life of a young person like you?

I think it is important to introduce many more online platforms that offer answers to young people's questions. That way we have access to accurate information. It would make a difference because young people would use accurate information they got from qualified people via the internet, where they spend a lot of time today, and not the false information they find on portals, written by people who are not experts in these topics.


What helped you to become engaged as a peer educator and activist for SRHR? How has this experience been so far?

It helped me to get more involved when I saw how much benefit and importance it has, both for me and for all those who participate. With small steps, we change the consciousness of society and educate people about topics that are present in their environment.


* SRHR = sexual and reproductive health and rights

Interview conducted by the Institute for Population and Development, IPPF's member in BiH, as part of the project  Youth Voices, Youth Choices, funded by MSD for Mothers




Bosnia and Herzegovina


European Network


Young People

Related Member Association

Institute for Population and Development