Dağlar Çilingir is 22 years old young women studying political science and international relations in Boğaziçi University. She joined Reproductive Health Peer Educations Project in 2014 and became a peer educator. She has been organizing peer education sessions with other peer educators in the network ever since.
She shares an event from one of the peer education sessions; ‘As a peer educator, I once went to a rural area in Turkey for a peer education session. After the session, some participants came and said “There are many young people living here but they were ashamed to participate a training on sexual and reproductive health but now that we are trained, things will be different. You changed our perspective on these issues. We will inform our peers that sexual and reproductive health topics are not something to feel ashamed.”’
Peer education is the process whereby well-trained and motivated young people undertake informal or organized educational activities with their peers (those similar to themselves in age, background, or interests). These activities, occurring over an extended period of time, are aimed at developing young people’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills and at enabling them to be responsible for and to protect their own health.
Even though being a peer educator brings its own challenges, young people find other ways to support each other says Dağlar; “we all are inspiring each other all the time. Young people are afraid to come the sessions sometimes. Society has taboos on sexuality issues and it is really hard for youth to change them. People can reflect negatively to the topic and it is hard to advocate in this specific topic in Turkey. People think negatively for years and today change will not be in 1 day but youth change each other, youth change the society together!”More than 10.000 young people between ages of 17 and 24 were reached through face to face peer education sessions by young peer educators and more than 2 million young people were reached through outreach activities in the context of Reproductive Health Peer Education Project.
Reproductive Health Peer Education Project still continues with strong youth leadership and dedicated partners. By 2016, project is implemented with a TOG, UNFPA Turkey and Y-PEER Turkey, registered as an NGO. UNFPA Turkey is committed to invest in youth leadership by building and sustaining strong partnerships.